Sylvester Snyder’s Waynesboro: A Book of Photographs


Sylvester Snyder made the ordinary extraordinary as he captured the sights and people of Waynesboro – the community where he lived for nearly a century.

“Sylvester Snyder’s Waynesboro,” a book of more than 280 of his photographs, is being published by Antietam Historical Association and will be available Dec. 9.

“These are pictures of people doing routine things … walking home from lunch, shopping, getting an ice cream cone …” according to Todd Dorsett, the book’s editor. “You can still see the buildings and scenes of Waynesboro in the background, but what makes them interesting is the activities he captured.” 

Snyder conceived the idea for a book after his photos were featured in a “one man” show at Alexander Hamilton Memorial Free Library, Dorsett added. “He suggested his granddaughter Karen could do the layout and I would write the captions. But life gets in the way of such plans.”

Snyder’s vast collection was the focus of an AHA Third Thursday Biography Breakfast. “We didn’t want to do the book without the family’s blessing, and as soon as we got that we started collecting pictures.” About 500 prints, including some of Snyder, were gathered from various sources, including the library, Waynesboro residents Jeff Mace and Dorsett, as well as former resident Mike Barlup. “Sylvester had taken one titled, ‘Barlup’s Farm,’ which won a prize. We didn’t have a copy, but Mike did,” said Dorsett. 

The amateur photographer was undaunted by rain, snow and fog as he snapped what are now memories of downtown, industries, parades, celebrations, athletics, movies, picnics, parks, railroads, mills, bridges, roads, mountain scenery and countryside, according to Dorsett. Photos of neighborhoods, Cold Spring and Pen Mark parks, the Arcade and 1947 Sesquicentennial also are included. “His snow scenes, featuring solitary figures, sledders and cautious pedestrians, are particularly beautiful,” he added.

Snyder, who died in 2006, was a mechanical and civil engineer. “Precision pervaded everything he did,” according to Dorsett. “He also was a keen observer of what was happening around him and had a good memory to preserve what he observed with attention to detail and an artistic quality.”

Snyder’s work at Waynesboro businesses began at Landis Machine Co. and then he became general manager of Vulcan Machine Co. “When they sold that he went to Landis Tool Co. as a mechanical engineer.” Snyder is survived by daughters Julie Craig of Greencastle and Molly Moran of York, Maine, and three grandchildren. “His cousins Jim Lizer and Bill Spangler also were interested in photography. It might have been a ‘thing’ in the ‘30s,” Dorsett said.

The cost of the book if ordered prior to Dec. 8 is $42.50 plus tax. For more information, call AHA at 717-762-2006.

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