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“Strong as Glass”

One doesn’t usually equate glass with strength…

However, before the Ohio Valley was as “strong as steel,” the Ohio Valley was as “strong as glass.”


CARNIVAL GLASS OPEN SALT CELLAR MADE BY THE IMPERIAL GLASS COMPANY. 

 

At one time glass and ceramics were more than the just the main industries in our region – the Ohio Valley was producing the majority of glass and ceramics made in the United States! Brooke County alone had over 35 glass factories throughout its history, most of which were in Wellsburg. Ceramics production increased in the late colonial period to outfit all the new pioneers, and then as the industrial revolution took hold and expanded into the colonies, production became more streamlined. This enabled the average family to have more household goods and enabled the more affluent families to have increasingly specialized and decorative goods.

 

The areas near the Ohio River provided quality ingredients in the soil to make ceramics and glass. This coupled with proximity to the Ohio River itself to be used for transporting the goods, caused the glass and ceramics industries to boom in our region. The legacy of ceramics and glass in the Ohio Valley had begun.

 

East Liverpool, Ohio became a hub for ceramics, initially bringing immigrant master craftsmen from England. As the processes were broken into smaller specialized steps, less skilled people could be trained in the new methods. Eager for work, more immigrants quickly arrived. Multiple manufacturing plants for ceramics sprung up in East Liverpool and neighboring Newell, West Virginia, as well.


 FIESTA™ BOWL MADE BY THE HOMER LAUGHLIN COMPANY. 

 

Meanwhile, farther south, the art and craft of glass manufacturing was taking off. Companies such as Duncan & Miller Glass Company in Washington, Pennsylvania and the Riverside Glass House, in Wellsburg, West Virginia were producing a variety of products and patterns. In Ohio, others would join them as well. Imperial Glass, located in Bellaire, produced glass from 1901 until 1984. Cambridge Glass, located in Cambridge, produced glass from 1873 until 1958. Eventually much of the glass production would shift westward, making Toledo, Ohio a new hub for glass production.


 

A Selection of Glass and Ceramics Museums in the Ohio Valley

 

National Imperial Glass Museum

Located approximately 30 miles from Wellsburg, the National Imperial Glass Museum showcases a collection of items made by National Imperial Glass. This museum is compact, but full of the history of the more than 75 years of glass production in Bellaire. A knowledgeable volunteer staff will help you tour the museum and answer any of your questions.

 

National Imperial Glass Museum

3200 Belmont Street

Bellaire, OH 43906

740-671-3971

 

Hours

THU – SAT 11AM – 3PM

 

Admission

Adult - $5

Children 12 & under - FREE

Imperial Glass Collector’s Society Members & Former Employees - FREE Veterans – FREE

 

A Blue Star Museum

ADA Accessible

On-street parking


 

Duncan & Miller Glass Museum

COPYRIGHT 2024 DUNCAN MILLER GLASS MUSEUM. PHOTO USED WITH THE EXPRESS PERMISSION OF THE DUNCAN MILLER GLASS MUSEUM.


Located approximately 25 miles from Wellsburg, this museum has an extensive collection of Duncan Miller Glass. This museum also showcases the glass making process. Before you end your visit, be sure to try your hand at the “Victorian Era Tableware” quiz. You wouldn’t want to confuse the ice cream tray with the orange bowl at your next historic dinner party!


COPYRIGHT 2024 DUNCAN & MILLER GLASS MUSEUM. PHOTO USED WITH THE EXPRESS PERMISSION OF THE DUNCAN MILLER GLASS MUSEUM.

 

Duncan & Miller Glass Museum

100 Ridge Avenue

Washington, PA 15301

724-225-9950

 

Hours

THU – SUN 11AM – 4PM

Admission

Adult – $10

Senior 65+, Retired Military & Dependents – $8

Active-duty military – FREE

Children 12-18 Accompanied by an Adult – $5

Children 1-12 Accompanied by an Adult – FREE

 

ADA Accessible

 

 

Museum of Ceramics

Approximately 30 miles from Wellsburg, the Museum of Ceramics has an extensive collection of items from the East Liverpool Pottery District. It also includes a detailed set of exhibits that explain the manufacturing process. Life size photos leave a lasting impression of what being a ceramics worker was like in an earlier time. 


MUSEUM OF CERAMICS, EAST LIVERPOOL, OHIO.

 

Museum of Ceramics

400 East Fifth Street

East Liverpool, OH 43920

330-386-6001


Hours

TUE - SAT 9AM – 3:30PM

CLOSED January, February, and March. 

Call 330-386-6001 for exact closing and opening dates.


Admission

Adult - $6

Children - $3

Military Personnel – FREE

OHC Members and MoC Members – FREE

AAA and Senior discounts

 

Ohio History Connection Partner

On-street parking


 

Brooke County Historical Museum & Cultural Center

Located in historic Wellsburg, this museum has something for everyone, from military uniforms to exhibits of common household rooms from different time periods. Be sure to check out their glass display room to see the many examples of locally made glass.

 

Brooke County Historical Museum & Cultural Center

704 Charles Street

Wellsburg, WV 26070

304-737-4060

 

Hours

Open from April through October

THUR, FRI, SUN – 1PM – 5PM

 

Admission

Admission Fee Required

 

On-street parking

 

 

Also, you may want to check out:

 

The Blenko Glass Company in Milton, West Virginia


          “Blenko Glass is a proud West Virginian company and celebrated our 100th birthday right here in Milton, WV in 2021.”  


BLENKO GLASS MADE IN WEST VIRGINIA.

 

The National Museum of Cambridge Glass in Cambridge, Ohio


          “The museum features over 10,000 pieces of glassware made by the Cambridge Glass Company, with an interpretive area demonstrating how glass was made from gathering, shaping, etching, and engraving.”

         

 

The Oglebay Institute Glass Museum in Wheeling, West Virginia


          “Oglebay Institute’s Glass Museum honors this legacy through a world-class collection of more than 3,500 examples of Wheeling-made glass and china.”


 

Toledo Museum of Art in Toledo, Ohio


          “The glass objects at the Toledo Museum of Art comprise one of the most comprehensive and historically significant collections dedicated to the medium in the world.”



Books in the BCPL collection:

 

West Virginia glass: between the world wars

Author: Dean Six

Call number: WVR 748.2913 SIX, located at the BCPL main location in West Virginia Reference section (library use only)

 

Elegant glassware of the Depression era

Author: Gene Florence

Call number: 748.297 FLORENCE, located at the Follansbee branch location in the Adult Nonfiction section.

 

Images of America: Ohio Valley pottery towns

Author: Pamela Lee Gray

Call number: 738 GRAY (WV), located at the BCPL main location in the Adult Nonfiction section.

 

Additional Information:


 

 

All efforts were made in good faith for accuracy of content of this blog post. However, fees charged, and hours of operation may be subject to change without notice. Information was retrieved 6/1/24.

 

Next week we’ll explore the history of the Underground Railroad.



Kirstie Perkins

Kirstie Perkins is a summer intern at Brooke County Public Libraries and Visitors Center in West Virginia. She is pursuing her Bachelor of Technical and Applied Studies with a focus on nonprofit studies, communication studies, and fine arts. When not studying or interning, she enjoys gardening, making new things from recycled materials, and writing.

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