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From 1916 until 1970, the Marietta Manufacturing Company (MMC) was a major ship builder and employer in Point Pleasant.

An early predecessor of the company, W. F. Robertson & Company, was formed in Beverly, Ohio, in 1852. Following a fire at the Beverly site, the company moved to Marietta, Ohio, in 1881, and was chartered as MMC in 1892. At the time, it made primarily stoves and ranges, iron and brass castings, plows, and compound and condensing engines and pumps for steamboats.

The 1913 flood on the Ohio River damaged the Marietta plant. Seeing an opportunity, Samuel Spencer and other leaders in Mason County encouraged company president Walter A. Windsor to relocate his business to Point Pleasant. MMC, which Windsor cleverly turned into an acronym for “Made Mechanically Correct,” was chartered in West Virginia in 1915 and began production the next year on a 42-acre site that included a general machine shop. Government contracts during World War I gave MMC an immediate boost, and the company added a boiler shop and a shipyard to become what The Waterways Journal called in 1919 “one of the largest builders of complete river craft in the United States.”

Following Windsor’s sudden death due to complications from a tonsillectomy in 1929, vice-president Charles O. Weisenberger became president and ran the company from 1930 to 1944. He oversaw the plant’s industrial mobilization during the first years of World War II, when MMC built four Navy net tenders, 16 Army mine planters, and 53 Army landing tugs, while employing as many as 2,200 workers. Since more than 200 men who had been employed at the plant had joined the military, a good portion of these jobs were carried out by women, known as “Rosie the Riveters.” In 1944, MMC received the prestigious Army-Navy “E” Award for ranking among the top three percent of war-production plants in the nation.

After the war, the plant returned to making mostly barges for hauling coal and steel as well as 10 landing craft utility (LCU) ships for the government in 1953 and 1954. Tragedy struck on December 22, 1953, when an empty gasoline barge tied to the dry dock exploded, killing six men who had been cleaning it.

During the 1950s, the company also manufactured automatic mining and loading machines as part of the coal industry’s mechanization. In addition, during the 1960s, MMC made survey ships for the U.S. Department of Commerce and Navy. In an interview with Betty Rivard for Goldenseal, former employee Vernon Clifton recalled how much talent once existed at MMC: “It was unreal what they were capable of doing, just old country and small-town boys. There wasn’t anything they couldn’t tackle.”

In its final years, the plant principally repaired existing boats and barges. The last riverboat built at the facility was the Oliver C. Shearer. The company went bankrupt and closed its facilities in February 1970, and the property and equipment were auctioned off. In 1972, Amherst Industries reopened the plant as Point Pleasant Marine, but it too closed in 1984 due to a strike. The decline and eventual closing of MMC was a significant economic blow to the Point Pleasant area.

The company’s archival records are now in the archives of East Carolina University. The photos accompanying this entry were taken by Arthur S. Siegel on a visit to Marietta Manufacturing in June 1943 for the U.S. Office of War Information. These and many others are in the collections of the Library of Congress.

Last Revised on March 30, 2023


Sources

Rivard, Betty. Marietta Manufacturing Company: Building Ships and Boats in Point Pleasant. Goldenseal, 40, 2, Summer 2014.

Skeen, Brocton. The Marietta Manufacturing Company. West Virginia Historical Society, 22, 1, January 2008.

Stone, Charles H., and Fowler, Jack. The History of the Marietta Manufacturing Company. Huntington, WV: Marshall University, John Deaver Drinko Academy, 2006.

Cite This Article

e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia "Marietta Manufacturing Company." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 30 March 2023. Web. 03 March 2024.

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