Waynesboro Heritage Museum | 420 W. Main St., Waynesboro, Virginia 22980 | Hours: Tuesday–Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. | Phone: (540) 943-3943

Industrial Age of Waynesboro

Here’s an earlier depiction of the early Basic and Waynesboro area.  It is taken from the book, “1835 Gazetteer of Virginia and the District of Columbia” by Joseph Martin. “Waynesboro’s P.V. 109 ms. from R. and 10 from W., situated at the western foot of the Blue Ridge, on South river.  Waynesboro is an industrious and wealthy little village, located in a beautiful and picturesque situation, in a fertile well watered country, on the main stage road leading from Charlottesville to Staunton, 30 ms. N.W. of the former, and 12 E.S.E. of the latter.  The present town is called Waynesboro, junior, (Waynesboro, senior, lying a little N. having fallen into ruins.)  It contains 70 dwelling houses, 5 mercantile stores, 2 houses of public worship, (1 Methodist and 1 Presbyterian) 1 incorporated academy, 1 common school and public library, 1 extensive manufacturing flour mill and a wool carding machine, 1 hotel (kept in the best style) 2 tanyards, 2 saddlers, 3 tailors, 1 hatter, 1 silver smith and watch maker, 1 wagon maker, 1 chair maker, 2 cabinet makers, 3 boot and shoe factories, and 3 blacksmith’s shops.  Population not less than 500 persons; of whom 4 are regular physicians. ”  (Waynesboro, senior is probably Teesville/Teasville which had a stagecoach stop, and initial “W” refers to Washington, “R” Richmond, and “P.V.” post village.)

During the late 1800’s, Basic became a boom town.  With the Crozet tunnel completed through Afton Mountain, the railroad had made it possible to get products into and from the Basic and Waynesborough area.  Basic became the “iron cross” with the Norfolk and Western Railroad (formerly the Shenandoah Valley Railroad)  running north and south and the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad running east and west.  Passenger trains made traveling much easier.

Early establishments were Smith & Patterson’ Grist (Flour) Mill, Gallaher’s and Clark’s tan yards, Rife’s Ram Pump Works, J. H. Campbell Saddle Shop, Patterson’s Cooper Shop, J. H. Shindel and W. M. Caldwell Wheelwright Store, A. C. Fry Tinsmith Shop, and general merchandise stores of T. H. Antrim’s, T. W. Newcomb’s, Patterson & Smith, Killian & Henkel and Son, Roden and Chew, Rife Ram and Pump Works (later Rife-Loth Stoves), Fry’s Confection Shop, Huff’s Dry Goods Store, Meyers and Fishburne Drug Store (now Fishburne and Son), print shop, The Messenger Newspaper, Advance Steam Publishing Company, Lambert Lumber Company, Alexander Furniture Company and apple processing plants.  The early newspapers were Weekly Tribune, South River Advertiser, Augusta News, and The Messenger.   Waynesboro Mutual Company was the early telephone exchange.  Rife Ram and Pump Works was site of the Electrical Plant.

Town inns were Waynesborough Hotel (or Gibbs Hotel), Bruce House, Ridgeway House and the Jefferson House.  Schools were J. W. Patterson’s Female Institute, Waynesboro Female Seminary, Shenandoah Normal School, Town Hall Academy, a public school house, and Fishburne’s High School (now Fishburne Military School).  There were two white and one colored Baptist Churches, two white and one colored Methodist Churches and a Presbyterian Church.  A Basic Opera House

In the Basic area, there were companies of Basic City Car Works, Paper Fabrique Company, Selb’s Knitting Factory, School Desk and Furniture Company, Basic City Match Factory Page Cigar Factory, broom factory, hardware factory, brick plants of Myers Brick Works, Brinkel Brick Works, the Booker Brick Factory, Hampton Brick Works, and F. Preston Jones Company.  Other companies included a lumber and millwork company, coal yard, planning mill, livery stables, slaughter house, tannin extraction plants, and later the Basic City Electrical Plant.  A Basic Belt Line railroad which ran from the C&O Bridge over South River, northeastward through the riverside factory area and connected with the N&W Shenandoah Valley line railroad became a valuable link for these companies and other auxiliary businesses to ship commerce.

Banks included the Basic Bank, Citizens’ Bank, Citizens Waynesboro Bank and Trust Company, and South River Bank.  Other financial institutions were Basic City Bank, and Iron Cross Bank of Basic City which later failed due to loan defaults.

Real estate companies were West Waynesboro Land Company and Basic City Mining, Manufacturing and Land Company.

The boon did go bust in a short time and those early establishments in existence today in Waynesboro are the Fishburne Military School, operating at full scale, and Fishburne and Son Pharmacy (the former Fishburne Drug Store now operating on Linden Avenue).

Later industries in the early 1900’s were Klann Organ, Wayne Manufacturing, DuPont de Nemours and Company, Inc., General Electric Company, Dawbarn Brothers (Wayn-Tex, Mohawk), and Virginia Metalcrafters, Inc.  These industries further enhanced the population and made the area more beautiful and better educated the community than ever before.  We have grown from about 500 population in the 1800’s to around 21,000 at present (2013).  Through the effects of the U.S. economy, textile plants have gone to other countries.  City of Waynesboro, schools, warehousing and distribution, retail stores, light industry, and tourism are large employers in our area today.

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