As the oldest continuously family-owned and privately operated shipyard in the country, Colonna's Shipyard was established in 1875. The man who founded the shipyard was Charles J. Colonna, a 26-year-old ship carpenter with limited financial resources. Unfortunately, as the business grew, the use of asbestos became extremely common in the shipbuilding industry. The use of asbestos would greatly endanger the health of employees, as the mineral is carcinogenic. By cutting and sanding products that contained asbestos, workers would release harmful dust into the air they would inhale. It was only during the 1980s that asbestos ceased being employed for the manufacturing of new products, including ships.