Young Engineer's History of Greencastle Engines

Greencastle engines' unique development and features.


| November/December 1966



Greencastle grain drill

Courtesy of William U. Waters, Jr., 8640 Main St., Damascus, Md. 20750.

William U. Waters

The Greencastle line of machinery was built by the Crowell Manufacturing Company of Greencastle, Pennsylvania, located about 8 miles from Waynesboro, the home of Frick and Geiser. The company was founded sometime in the 1800's by a Mr. Crowell, who was joined by a Mr. Henry B. Larzelere, either as a partner or as machinist and designer.

We have been unable to find out how many Greencastle engines were built. The Greencastle Chamber of Commerce thought only a Couple were built along with 13 threshers. Twelve of the threshers were returned to the factory because of imperfections with only one being paid for. This one was burned in a barn fire and the insurance paid for it.

My guess is that there were about twelve traction engines built, judging from old timers who remember hearing of such engines. The Crowell Mfg. Co. also built the Greencastle grain drill, which I believe was their specialty. Farm Implement News Buyers Guide of 1890 lists the company as building threshers, portable sawmills and portable engines. The Crowell Co. went into receivership in the late 1890's under the reign of a Rahauser Family. The Geiser Mfg. Co. of Waynesboro bought the plant about 1901, using it to build gas engines, tractors etc.. The buildings are still standing and you can see Emerson Brantingham painted on the west side of the main building. E-B gained control of the Geiser Co. about 1913.

Mr. Larzelere was a mechanical engineer born in Willow Grove, Pennsylvania. Mr. Larzelere moved to Greencastle in 1882, probably from Doylestown Penna. In about 1887 he moved to Muncy, Penna., and with the help of a Mr. Brocious started the Muncy Traction Engine Company. The Muncy engine was an exact copy of the Greencastle engine, judging from pictures. The Muncy Co. was apparently unsuccessful. Mr. Larzelere spent his later years with the A. B. Farquar Co. of York, Penna., selling and installing sawmill outfits.

Three patents were issued to Mr. Henry B. Larzelere relating to steam engines. Patent #299,484, dated May 27, 1884, and #300,270, dated June 10, 1884 were on steam portable engines. Patent #300,271, dated June 10, 1884 was on a boiler leveling device. It was a sort of jack screw built into the kingpost of the engine, raising and lowering the front of the engine by a crank as necessary for leveling the engine while in the belt. These patents were assigned to the Crowell Mfg. Co.

Sometime about 1885, three Greencastle Engines were shipped to Woodstock Virginia. One of these engines, #159, is the only known Greencastle engine in existence.