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 to Brevard.
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 later.
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 or 828-884-1820.