When the Transylvania Times published a
special Centennial Issue in celebration of Brevard’s 100th
anniversary the local economy was tied to industry and construction.
During the early 1900s the local economy and
jobs were centered on the logging and lumber industry. Joseph Silversteen was considered a pioneer
industrialist when he began Toxaway Tanning in 1902. His businesses grew to include Gloucester
Lumber, Rosman Tanning & Extract and Transylvania Tanning. Louis Carr opened his lumber company in 1912
and logged thousands of acres in the Pisgah National Forest. At one time Carr Lumber had the largest
sawmill operation in Western North Carolina.
Both Silversteen and Carr had employed
hundreds of workers over the course of several decades but by 1968 both were
deceased and their businesses closed. Carr’s
son, Frank continued to operate Carr Builders’ Supply and Silversteen’s
son-in-law Albert Weiss had purchased the former Transylvania Tanning property
for his machine company. Weiss employed
24 people making machine parts for local businesses and national corporations
such as General Electric.
The 1940s and 1950s saw the addition of
Transylvania County’s two largest manufacturers. In 1968 the Ecusta Paper Corporation, which
had begun in 1939, was now part of the Olin Mathieson Chemical Corporation and
had 3000 employees at their Pisgah Forest plant. Ecusta was credited for bringing big industry
Brevard’s DuPont Plant opened in 1957 to manufacture
silicon but soon switched to x-ray film.
Through an innovative program of pre-training, employees were able to
transition from their jobs in silicon production to the film industry without
losing a day’s work. The plant employed about
1500 people in 1968.
|Myers Dining Hall at Brevard College was one of Bryant Construction’s
numerous building projects.
Jack Bryant had started Bryant Electric in
1952 as a solo operation. Fourteen years
later Bryant Corporation included separate electrical and construction
companies and was the largest contractor in the county with jobs throughout the
southeastern U.S. The Bryant Corporation
employed 150 people and subcontracted with an additional 300.
|The American Thread plant under construction in 1964.|
Newer companies included American Thread and
Mitchell-Bissell both located in the Rosman area. The American Thread Company constructed a
large modern plant to manufacture cotton thread and yarn in 1964. Four years later they employed 300 people.
In 1961 the Mitchell-Bissell Company, which
had been in business since the late 1800s, built a modern facility to
manufacture wire guides. They soon
expanded to other metal parts and assembly and had 90 employees. Now Known as M-B Industries, they are the
only Transylvania manufacturer from 1968 that remains in operation 50 years
Photographs and information for this column
are provided by the Rowell Bosse North Carolina Room, Transylvania County
Library. Visit the NC Room during regular library hours (Monday-Friday)
to learn more about our history and see additional photographs. For more
information, comments, or suggestions contact Marcy at [email protected]