Imagine an aerial cableway in Berwyn Heights transporting sand from block 34, located across from the Elementary School front entrance, to a brick making factory at the railroad tracks. This came close to being reality in early 1907 when the Columbia Brick Company purchased 25 acres at Berwyn Heights. “This property comprises a splendid factory site located on the Baltimore & Ohio, and some sand hills back of this site…The sand will be conveyed from the hills by a gravity-cable-bucket conveyor to the factory. The factory itself will have a capacity of 80,000 bricks per day… and is expected to be in full operation by the end of March…”1
The undertaking was another brainchild of Congressman Samuel S. Yoder, whose syndicate of developers left no avenue untried in revitalizing the suburb of Berwyn Heights. With partners W. W. Poultney and B. M. Harvey, Yoder incorporated the Berwyn Land & Manufacturing Corporation in 1905, a development cooperative to fund improvements and promote industry in the subdivision. Any investor purchasing lots valued at least $250 in the subdivision was issued $100 of stock in the Corporation to help finance the construction of a sand lime brick factory, a concrete hollow block factory, a terra cotta plant and a gravel wash plant, taking advantage of the sand, gravel and clay found here in abundance.2
To get the brick making business underway, Yoder granted an equal share in the properties to Clayton E. Emig (1862-1940), a prominent D.C. Lawyer and President of the North Washington Citizen Association. The properties were subject to a first lien of $7,775 out of the money arising from the organization of the brick factory, payable to Yoder before Emig and the Columbia Brick Company would reap any benefit out of the premises.3 Although the brick factory and cargo tramway were not built, it shows that other futures were possible for this now quiet, residential community. The land granted to Emig was later absorbed by the Berwyn Heights Company.
1 “Large Brick Plant Building at Berwyn,” The Washington Times, 3 March 1907, p. 6.
2 “Development at Berwyn,” Evening Star, 16 June 1906, p.2. and “Growth of Hyattsville” [and adjacent communities], Evening Star, 8 April 1906, p. 7.
3 Deed 3-14-1907, SS Yoder to CE Emig, PGC Land Records, Book 39, Page 107