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Take a look back at Franklin County’s history through news and photos that appeared in local newspapers 25, 50, and 100 years ago on Feb. 18th.

25 Years Ago

February 18, 1995  Saturday

“Bidders take bits and pieces of tannery away from auction”

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Auctioneer Jesse Blen takes bids on former tannery equipment Friday.

Footsteps echoed through the massive warehouse of the bankrupt Mercersburg Tanning Co. Friday as people took one last look around the Oregon Street landmark. 

“I’ve lived here all my life and never have been around to see the place before,” said resident J. Levester Egolf who attended Friday’s auction to see the red-brick walls from the inside. 

The 90-year-old tannery closed in September, two months after its parent, Feuer Leather Corp., sought bankruptcy protection. 

Many residents came to browse. But many of the more than 100 bidders came to find a bargain, like $5 electric drills or $25 electric saws. A few traveled as far away as Wisconsin and Utah. 

But much of the equipment was obsolete and in poor condition. 

Frank Wadding of McConnellsburg came to buy machine shop tools. But “these tools are so old and I mean old that I’m wondering if I should just forget it,” he said. 

Ray Bauner of Hampton Machine Co. in New Hampshire was also disappointed in the equipment selection, and let what few items interested him pass to peopie who were willing to pay more. 

Several past employees of the tannery who are now in semi-retirement showed up to visit friends and check out the evolution of equipment over the years. 

Very little seems to have changed, said Clatus Robinson, who worked for the tannery in the 1960s. “I’d swear that some of this stuff are the tools I worked with.” 

But nostalgia wasn’t enough of a reason to buy. He was looking for something practical, such as chicken wire to cage his wild turkeys. 

“My daddy and granddaddy, we all worked here,” said Fred Robinson, who left the company in 1959. Robinson still has the old railroad pocket watch that his grandfather bought with a week’s salary from the tannery. 

“He was mighty proud of that watch,” he said. “Funny, it still runs, but now the tannery is closing down.”

The auction doors opened at 9 a.m. for people to meander through the building and inspect the equipment. The auction began at 11 a.m. 

The amount of money made during the auction was not available Friday. 

Company attorneys have three weeks to figure out how much money will be spent to clean up the sludge pits where industrial chemicals were dumped years ago. 

The soil in four former piles must be trucked away to comply with cleanup orders from Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources. 

“I think it’s a shame that the place is shutting down,” Fred Robinson. “People need the jobs.”

Environmental restrictions are too tough, he said. Having worked there for decades and lived in Mercersburg all his life, Robinson said that he does not feel threatened with any potential environment-related heart problems. 

Laws are made to protect people, not put them out of jobs.

50 Years Ago

February 18, 1970 – Wednesday

“Free Ash Tray with 10 Gallons of Gas”

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Remember this ad? Franklin County Free Press editor Vicky Taylor does. She bought all her gasoline at H.L. Mills. Back when it was under 50 cents a gallon, and you got a “free” gift with a $5 purchase.

100 Years Ago

February 18, 1920 – Wednesday

“BOOKS FOR OVERSEAS MEN”

Adjutant Stallsmith Receives Pamphlets From Chambersburg Office. 

CHAMBERSBURG – Earl Stallsmith, adjutant of the American Legion, has received sixty booklets I entitled “To The Homeward Bound Americans” which he will distribute to members of the Legion who saw service overseas in accordance with instructions received from the army recruiting office at Chambersburg.

The booklet reviews the major offensives of the World War and thanks the American soldiers for the part they played in bring victory to the Allies.

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Printed in France, provides an excellent recap of the activities of the Allied Expeditionary Force (A. E. F.) and their activities in France.

Editors note: If you would like to read  more about the book, click on the following link:
https://www.gjenvick.com/Military/WorldWarOne/Brochures/1919-ToTheHomewardBoundAmericans.html

Local History

Franklin County’s History: Looking Back at April 7th

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Take a look back at Franklin County’s history through news and photos that appeared in local newspapers 25, 50, and 100 years ago on April 7th.
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