HAMMONDVILLE - THE BOOM & BUST
(Taken From The Story Written By: GEORGE SEIGHMAN)
Prior to 1891, the present village of Hammondville was divided into two parts. The first consisted of farmland owned by the Pershing Family and the second included all the homes built along Jacobs Creek. These homes started at the bridge leading to Bridgeport and extended along Jacobs Creek. As noted in the 1880 Federal Census for Bullskin Township this area was known as South Bridgeport. The census states that 21 families with 111 family members lived in this area.
The 1880's saw little change in the day to day life of the citizens of this area. However, at the end of the decade rumors had begun circulating about some big changes coming to the area. As the 1880's ended the changes were very clear. The Pershing Farm was to become a manufacturing center. The Iron City & Hammondville Improvement Company was then created. The goal of this company was as follows: Lay out a town and sell lots to workers, store owners, and other professionals, build a glass factory, build a steel mill, and build a tin plate finishing plant. Excitement among the area residents was extremely high with the announcement from the improvement company that the factories in Hammondville would employ up to 1500 men when in full operation.
In 1891 a section of the Pershing Farm was laid out into lots by the Pittsburgh Land Company. In February 1892 ground was broken for the Iron & Steel Mill. The products of the mill were to be steel billets, ingots, and bars. The primary product being block plate used in making tin plate. On May 19, 1892 the sale of lots began for homes. They sold from $200 to $500 per lot. At this time the Smith-Bouldewold Glass Factory was in full operation in Hammondville.
The establishment of this steel mill must have been a certainty because some local business men purchased the Greenlick Narrow Gauge Railroad at a Sheriff Sale. This railroad once transported iron ore from the mines on Chestnut Ridge to the Charlotte Furnace in Scottdale. The investors hoped to re-establish the ore mines on the ridge to supply ore to the steel mill.
By May 1892 the B&O Railroad had established a station at Hammondville and plans were made for the Pennsylvania Railroad to build a freight and passenger station. And on June 30, 1892 Hammondville had its own Post Office.
In the fall of 1893 the Smith-Bouldwold Glass Factory was unable to meet the demand for their "fine glassware" with only one furnace at the plant. It is not known why, but they decided to sell the company instead of building another furnace. The company was sold to Bryce Brothers. By 1896, Bryce Brothers had also outgrown the small glass plant. Instead of expanding the Hammondville Plant, they build a larger plant on South Deport Street in Mount Pleasant.
With the relocation of the Bryce Brothers Factory, this delivered the final blow to the boom times at Hammondville. Unfortunately, the steel mill was never completed. All of the reasons for this have never been completely determined, but the project appeared to be under capitalized and the men building the mill were entering a law suit against the company for wages. With the failure to finish the steel mill the negotiations for the tin plant fell through as well and Hammondville was left without one single manufacturing plant.
But all was not lost because most of the people who bought built homes stayed and continued to live and make their homes in this new community. Among them were workers that continued to work at the glass factory in Mount Pleasant and men who worked at the local coal & coke yards. With no industry in Hammondville and the demand for lots had collapsed - the unsold lots were abandoned, the undeveloped land and factory sites grew up in weeds and on May 15, 1905 the Post Office closed its doors. This was the end to something that was suppose to be BIG, but in fact never materialized.