by Dean Six
There has never been an effort to take a broad, comprehensive look at West Virginia’s rich heritage of glass production. All that changes with the publication by Quarrier Press of the 20 plus years in the making WEST VIRGINIA GLASS TOWNS. At nearly 200 pages and filled with hundreds of images this is the first ever look at the expansive glass industry in the state.
Over 450 companies and locations have produced hot glass since the first glass was produced in Wellsburg in the second decade of the 19th century. West Virginia Glass Towns provides a town by town list of the glass producing communities giving dates, product lines and then offers a plethora of photos of glass factories, glass workers, maps, advertisements and much more. The book is a richly textured history using period images to tell the story of what has been a significant industry in the state, an industry that employed tens of thousands of men and women over the nearly two centuries of activity.
The books spans communities from Alum Bridge to Williamstown with significant chapters on know glass communities like Clarksburg, Fairmont, Huntington, Morgantown, Wellsburg, Weston and Wheeling. Also addressed are the numerous factories and glass producers in lesser recognized glass towns such as Cameron, Dunbar, Grafton, Mannington, Parkersburg, Pennsboro and Star City to name but a few.
Fifty-two communities, from larger cities to small towns, are included in the historic and long needed survey of the mountain state glass industry. A brief introductory essay by author Dean Six explains why glass as an industry was prolific in West Virginia and addresses the numbers of factories during the period of phenomenal growth in the early 20th century.
Factories in the state produced flat or window glass, bottles and fruit jars, tableware, glass novelties and a wide range of other glass products, spanning almost the entire spectrum of products made in glass. Factories along the Ohio River began decades before the American Civil War and as of early 2012 there remain 16 hot glass producers active in West Virginia. Many of these are small studio factories producing art glass and one of a kind objects.
This monumental document is the first ever look at the diverse, long lived and major employer in the state.