Industrial, Architectural & Historical Heritage
Waynesboro is remarkable for its rich historical and cultural heritage, yet remains a quintessential example of small town America. From its founding before the French and Indian War (1749), it became an important commercial outpost on the main wagon road between Baltimore and Pittsburgh (now Rt. 16, which runs through the town as Main Street). The town played a role in some of the key battles of the Civil War, and emerged as a center for industrial development from 1870 to 1930.
Waynesboro's Golden Age
In the 1870s Waynesboro began what would become its “Golden Age of Prosperity.” Local industries like Geiser Manufacturing, Frick Company, Landis Tool and others invented a number of early steam-driven tools and equipment for logging and farming, with later developments and innovations in refrigeration and many aspects of mechanical engineering. Some of Waynesboro’s 19th-century industries have grown into modern global companies.
The prosperity resulting from local industries left a rich architectural legacy in the many Victorian-era homes and commercial structures that still grace our community. The photo at left, taken in 1960 by renowned local photographer, Sylvester Snyder, highlights Main Street's striking architectural streetscape. The view from this vantage point is nearly the same today, minus the forest of antennas visible on the rooftops.
Civil War Connections
Students of the Civil War will find much to explore in our area, from the staging ground of John Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry, the Underground Railroad’s use of area limestone caverns and farms to funnel slaves to freedom, to the role Waynesboro played in the events surrounding the Battle of Gettysburg.
Highlights include Stuart’s Raid into Pennsylvania, and the role of our valley in troop movements connected to the burning of Chambersburg and to the Battle of Antietam in Sharpsburg, Md.
In 1863, Waynesboro was occupied by Confederate troops on their way to Gettysburg. Under Gen. Jubal Early, troops crossed the 1857 Welty’s Bridge, a stone-arch structure used for automobile traffic until 1988. The bridge still stands just minutes from downtown Waynesboro, and is shown here in a photograph from the Waynesboro Historical Society's Bob Ringer Collection.
The Battle of Monterey—the only battle fought on both sides of the Mason-Dixon line—was conducted on the ridge just above Waynesboro. And local lore includes a story about General Robert E. Lee watering his horse in Waynesboro’s Centre Square on his retreat from Gettysburg.
Mainstreet Waynesboro is proud to announce that the Waynesboro Historic District is officially listed in the National Register of Historic Places! Please see our Facebook page for some of downtown Waynesboro's historic buildings.