BY RUBY WARREN / June 2017
Westinghouse Electric Corporation announced on Feb. 6, 1968, that it would build an elevator components plant on a 75-acre tract of land two miles north of Gettysburg on Route 34 in Cumberland Township. Some local residents will remember this tract of land belonging to Melvin and George Coleman.
Construction began on a 200,000-square-foot office and manufacturing facility in February 1968. By September, 75 percent of the steel had been erected and mechanical underground work was nearly completed and a major portion of the roof was on the new plant. Erection of the blue-grey aluminum siding began in October and concrete slabs for the lower half of the walls were completed in December.
While construction was under way, on Aug. 13, 1968, Westinghouse agreed to rent office space on the second floor of the Bankers building, (now the Gettysburg School District Administration Building) for $550 for four months until the plant was completed. Gettysburg school board gave its approval.
Western Maryland Railway, which supplied the Union Army of the Battle of Gettysburg, hailed the Westinghouse Elevator Components Plant and welcomed them to Gettysburg. Beginning on Sept. 21, 1968, a railroad spur was being constructed for outgoing freight to be transported on Western Maryland’s Piggyback Service.
Westinghouse underwrote 72 percent of the cost of running a water line to the plant site, while the state contributed one-third. This was a benefit to the residents on the Biglerville Road and the new James Gettys School.
A four-week intensive training class began for the newly hired employees from the Gettysburg area in late January 1969. On Monday, Feb. 17, a second group of employees began training. The first shipment manufactured by these employees consisted of 104 boxes weighing 18,000 pounds, which left the plant by piggy-back railroad trailer for Arlington, Texas. This shipment was approximately 10 months after ground was broken for the new plant. George Dorman, plant manager, praised the new employees who had done an outstanding job and had performed beyond management’s expectations.
On Sept. 20, 1969, an open house, Community Family Day, was held to welcome the newest industry in Cumberland Township, Adams County. On display at the grand opening were two Westinghouse cameras that went to the moon on the Apollo 11 Mission. On black-and-white film, the camera took a photo of Neil Armstrong as he first set foot on the moon and other photos of Edwin Aldrin walking on the moon. Astronaut Armstrong displayed the camera as he climbed down the ladder to the moon surface.
Westinghouse was here 19 years and on Oct. 28, 1988, agreed to sell its elevator and escalator business to Schindler Holding A.G. of Switzerland – making it the second largest elevator company in the world.
Schindler opened a new plant in Hanover in March 2014, a new state-of-the-art 152,000-square-foot facility, and now the Gettysburg Plant is empty.
Ruby Warren is a board member of the Cumberland Township Historical Society.