Publication: American Glass Review
Pittsburgh, PA, United States
Leading Bottle Plants of 40 Years Ago
Passing Years Have Witnessed Many Changes In Both Producing Companies and Locations.
Industry Not Stabilized Two Decades Ago.
CHANGES taking place in the bottle and container industry in the United States in recent years have brought to many persons memories of years gone by in the industry when the manufacturing units were smaller and the plants were as widely, if not more widely, scattered than they are today.
In 1889, glass bottles (glass containers were not so well known then) were produced throughout the country from one seacoast to the other. There were factories in the states of Utah, Colorado, Wisconsin, Alabama and Kentucky 40 years ago. Today, not one of these states has glass factory of any variety. There is a wide area from St. Louis westward to the Golden Gate where there are no bottle and container plants today. Of course, the Southwest with its constantly increasing number of glass factories of all kinds is excepted.
Not many oi the factories of 40 years ago remain and few of the names continue to the present day. Changes have been marked and while probably not as rapid as in modern times, they were frequent enough, looking hack upon them, to indicate that the bottle industry was not stabilised 40 years ago.
The two-score years since 1889 have witnessed the passing of many firms and plants. Some towns which had large units for those days in 1889 today probably have forgotten they ever had a bottle plant. Thus do man and circumstance bring changes.
The recent observance by the Gayner Glass Works of Salem, N. J., of its 50th anniversary in Salem, brought to many of the veterans'in the bottle industry memories of the past. And yet, the Gayner Glass Works is one of the very few which has remained in one town in the ownership of one family for 50 years or even for 40 years.
In 1889, there were reported for the state of New Jersey, once the glass-making center of the United States, the following bottle factories:
Craven Bros., Salcm; Cumberland Glass Mfg. Go,, Bridgeton; Cohansey Glass Co., Bridgeton; Camden Glass Mfg. Co., Camden; Gayner & Co., Salem; Getsinger & Sons, Bridgeton; Gloucester Glassware Co., Woodbury; Horton, Gibson & Co., Fairton; Kirby & McBride, Bridgeton; More-Jonas & More, Bridgeton; Moore Brothers, Clayton; Parker Bros., Bridgeton; F. M. Pierce & Co., Clayton; Swedesboro Glass Co., Swedcshoro; Tillyer Bros., Winslow; Whitall Tatum & Co., Millville; Whitney Glass Works, Glassboro; Woodbury Glass Co., Woodbury; Winslow Glass Co., Bridgeton.
Quite an imposing list but the great majority have fallen before the ruthless circumstance which time brings in its wake. Camden, Fairton, Woodbury, Clayton and Swedesboro are glass "towns" no more. Bridgeton has lost most of the factories of 40 years ago.
The firm of Craven Bros. at Salem survives in the Salem Glass Works at Salem. The Cumberland Glass Mfg. Co. at Bridgeton was taken over within the past 10 years by the Illinois Glass Co. and now is the Bridgeton plant of the Owens-Illinois Glass Co. Of the other plants in Bridgeton the last to quit was Parker Bros. The Gayner factory at Salem has been referred to.
At Millville, Whitall Tatum & Co. continue, larger than ever, thoroughly modernized and in step with glass-making of 1929. This is one of the staunch old plants of the day as it has been through many years. The Whitney Glass Works brought to Glassboro the distinction for that town of having the glass factory longest in one town. This plant in recent years has been the Glasshoro plant of the Owens Bottle Co., now merged in the Owens-Illinois Glass Co.
More Factories Forty Years Ago
Moving over into Pennsylvania, the factories of 1889 were more numerous than they are now. Several of the old names survive, including Cunningham and Diamond. The Pennsylvania bottle plants 40 years ago included:
Cunningham & Co., Ltd., Pittsburgh; D. O. Cunningham & Co., Pittsburgh; Diamond Glass Co., Royersford; Delaware Glass Works, Philadelphia; Hero Fruit Jar Co., Philadelphia; Honesdale Glass Co., Honesdale; Hawley Glass Co., Hawley; Ihmsen Glass Co., Ltd., Pittsburgh; Wm. McCully & Co., Pittsburgh; Mason Fruit Jar Co., Philadelphia; Reading Glass Co., Reading; Royersford Glass Co., Royersford; Scranton Glass Co., Scranton; Stroudsburg Glass Co., Stroudsburg; Spring City Glass Co., Spring City; T. Wightman & Co., Pittsburgh.
Some of these factories also made window glass, notably Cunningham's, Ihmsen's and McCully's, while others making flint glass in 1889 are making bottles and containers today. These included J. T. & A. Hamilton, of Pittsburgh. Those named, however, were the accredited bottle plants.
D. O. Cunningham & Co. continue today in virtually the same location on the Southside of Pittsburgh. The Diamond Glass Co. still keeps Royersford on the map in a glass way as it has done for many years. The other plants have disappeared. The Wightman name survives in the Wightman Bottle & Glass Mfg. Co. at Parkers' Landing.
In Ohio in 1889 the bottle factories were Celina Star Glass Co., Celina; Bowling Green Bottle Works, Bowling Green; Cadiz Glass Co., Cadiz; Everett Glass Co., Newark; Findlay Bottle Co., Findlay; Kearns, Gorsuch & Co., Zanesville; Lythgoe Bros. & Co., Bowling Green; North Baltimore Bottle Works, North Baltimore; Reed & Co., Massillon; Safe Glass Co., Bowling Green; Youngstown Stamping Co., Youngstown.
Three of these plants, survive in the towns of 40-years ago, while one, the North Baltimore Bottle Co., has been at Terre Haute, Ind., for some years. The survivors are the Everett plant at Newark which is now the Newark plant of the American Bottle Division of the Owens-Illinois Glass Co.; the Kearns-Gorsuch plant now a division of the Hazel-Atlas Glass Co. and the Reed plant at Massillon which has not operated for several years.
No other state had as many bottle factories as the three named and as far as the record discloses there were none in West Virginia, which today has some of the giant units in bottle and container manufacture. The plants of 40 years ago which survive today in one form or another are:
Fairmount Glass Co., Fairmount, Ind. now the Fairmount Glass Works in Indianapolis.
Hemingray Glass Co., Muncie. Ind., but now making a specialty of glass insulators.
Maring, Hart & Co., Dunkirk, Ind., surviving in the Hart Glass Mfg. Co., at Dunkirk, a modern plant of high repute.
Illinois Glass Co., Alton, 111., now the chief western plant of the Owens-Illinois Glass Co., and until early this year still surviving under its name of 40 years ago.
Eugene P. Reed & Co., Rochester, N. Y., continuing as the E. F. Reed Glass Co., of Rochester.
San Francisco and Pacific Glass Works, San Francisco, continuing as the Illinois-Pacific Glass Co.
Streator Glass Co., Streator, III., continuing as the Streator plant of the American Bottle Division of the Owens-Illinois Glass Co.
Swindell Bros,, Baltimore, Md., remains under the same name in a modern plant as producers of bottle specialties.
Among the states which had bottle plants in 1889 and which do not have them today were:
Colorado—Colorado Bottle Co. at Colorado City; Colorado Glass Works at Golden, and Denver Glass Co. at Denver.
Alabama—Gate City Glass Co. at Gate City, and the Pioneer Glass Co, at Birmingham.
Wisconsin—Cream City Glass Co. at Milwaukee, and the Milwaukee Glass Co. at Milwaukee.
Kentucky—Falls City Glass Co. at Louisville.
Utah—Salt Lake Class Works, Salt Lake City.
While the casualties of manufacturing wrought in the 40 years since 1889 have been numerous there are sufficient survivors to prove that it was possible to survive. Either strength or weakness develops with the years. Management, location, source of materials, location of market, all these undoubtedly were factors in settling the fate of the many plants of 40 years ago which are in memory only today.
In 1889, as mentioned above, there were no bottle plants in West Virginia, which today is looked to for many kinds of glass products in large tonnage. However, 40 years ago the glass industry was in West Virginia but it was confined solely to Wheeling and Wellsburg and the production was confined to flint glass tableware and specialties and did not comprise bottles and containers or window glass.