Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Posts tagged ‘coal mines’

Cambridge Glass Company: Quality Heritage Preserved


Elegance of a bygone era is evident at The National Museum of Cambridge Glass, which is near downtown Cambridge, Ohio. Here you will find over 6000 pieces of handcrafted quality glassware – some of the finest in the world.

Cambridge Glass Company was founded back in 1902 with Arthur James Bennett, a glassmaker from Boston, as its president.  Cambridge was chosen as the site of this new venture because of its easy access to natural gas wells and coal mines, as well as railroads to bring in supplies and deliver the finished products. To get those furnaces blasting hot, they even had their own coal mine at Near Cut. Due to the intense heat of those furnaces, it was quite common to work early in the morning during the summer months so temperatures were a little cooler.

How many people do you think handled an elegant piece of glass from start to finish? That number could run as high as seventy five individuals! All of them were extremely proud to be part of this high quality product.

Back in 1973, a group was formed to establish this museum to display, study, and preserve the history of Cambridge Glass Co. At that time they created a revised logo based on the original one used by Cambridge Glass, but added the beginning and ending dates of operation.

Upon entering the museum, the beautiful colors and designs sparkle in rows and rows of showcases. Guides are on hand to explain the history of the glass making process at Cambridge Glass Company from 1902-1958. Back in 1902, the first dazzling piece produced was a crystal water pitcher, the Big X, which is on display at the museum.

One great place to begin your tour is in the Auditorium where they have a short video showing the glass making process. Here you will view actual films of work at Cambridge Glass back in the 1940s. These color enhanced films show workers of that time gathering, shaping, etching and engraving their beautiful glass pieces. There are also on display several original pieces of equipment, which were used at Cambridge Glass Company.

Etched glass attracts the eye of almost everyone who appreciates the beauty of fine hand workmanship. Some of the etched patterns have real gold fused on the glass for trim. as well as gold in the intricate pattern of the etchings. Rose Point is the most popular etching with elaborate wild roses midst vines and leaves. Rose Point is the most collected pattern and while it is usually in crystal, it can be found rarely in other colors.  The guides will often let you experience the method of etching using templates from Cambridge Glass.

The interpretive area sheds light on the history through an interesting display of tools and molds used during their productive years. Here you see an office worker overlooking the time sheets, an engraving table with a high tech bucket cooling system, and the popular glass blower. The addition of color to the glass made Cambridge Glass even more sought after as a collector’s item. As early as 1903, colors of Opal, Turquoise, Blue, Green and Amber were being produced, but not very extensively. Gradually more colors were added and in the early 30s a glass chemist created some of the most popular colors for collectors today.  Everyone has their favorite, but one of the most popular colors  is Crown Tuscan, a flesh colored pink milkglass, while other favorites are Carmen, Royal Blue or Amethyst.

Department stores in that era used Cambridge Glass in their displays for various reasons. These stores used glass holders to display their perfumes and millinery, as well as sparkling glassware displays. Some of the items that are in the museum today were actually purchased from Chicago and New York department stores.

The gift shop has actual pieces of Cambridge Glass for sale as well as books. A recent addition has been jewelry and Christmas ornaments made from broken pieces of Cambridge Glass that have been refinished, making each piece unique.   One of my favorites is a necklace purchased there a couple years ago made from the milkglass wing of a Cambridge Glass swan.  Special memories are included since my father worked at Cambridge Glass from the age of twelve as a carrying-in boy, and later as a presser, finisher and glassblower until the plant closed.

Add some sparkle to your life and stop by The National Cambridge Glass Museum to view fascinating local history. Join visitors from all over the world while you learn more about the rich heritage of glassmaking in the Cambridge area.

The National Museum of Cambridge Glass is located in Cambridge, Ohio on 136 South  Ninth Street, just half a block off Wheeling Avenue. Head to downtown Cambridge off any Cambridge exit near the crossroads of I-77 and I-70. The easily recognizable Cambridge Glass logo is on the front of the museum. The museum is open from April 1st through October 31st, Wednesday through Saturday 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. and Sunday Noon – 4 p.m.  Admission is very reasonable at $5 per adult and $4 for senior.  Children under twelve are free when accompanied by an adult.  If you have any questions regarding the museum, call 740-432-4245. Visit their website at www.cambridgeglass.org .

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Spirit of Christmas on Byesville Scenic Railway

Spirit of Christmas seems to be a fitting name for a ride on the Byesville Scenic Railway, because after you hear the stories of the miners from long ago, you will definitely appreciate the Christmas of today.

Accompanied on this trip by Miner Dave and Miner Steve, the hour train ride passed by twelve abandoned mines where about five hundred men worked underground.  However, in the area there were seventy seven deep coal mines with approximately five thousand men working.

The train track here was busy back in the early 1900’s with perhaps one hundred fifty trains going down the tracks on a busy day.  Their regular routes went from Marietta to Cleveland, but they went North as far as Canada.

Since it was the Christmas season, Miner Dave asked if there were any teachers on board. Then he selected a lady to read “The Night Before Christmas” as the train went down the track.  Miner Dave did appropriate sound effects as well as scene effects behind her back, which made for an amusing reading.

Young people are remembered in the mines as children often started working at the age of eight, with their parents’ consent, especially if the father had been injured. Someone had to work to pay their $12 a month rent as otherwise their family would have no place to live.

They did indeed, as Tennessee Ernie sang, “Owe my soul to the company’s store.”   They were paid in tokens that could only be spent at the company store.  So if the family needed an item, they would charge it there, then the man of the family would pay for it on payday.

Miner Dave explained that only men worked in the mines as it was thought that women would bring bad luck. They worked about 175 days out of the year. There was no welfare in those days, so they had to use credit…at the company store. For this most dangerous job in the world, there was no insurance and no vacation. There were definitely no atheists working in the mines.  They all believed that someone was watching over them.

How did you know if you were to work each day? At 7:15 each evening, everyone would listen for the whistle at the mine. If it blew once, there would be work tomorrow; twice, maybe and listen again at 4:15 in the morning; three times, no work the next day.

All nationalities headed out to work swinging their dinner pail. The pails could not be set down on the mine floor or the rats would open them and eat their dinner.  So miners always hung their dinner pails high on the mine wall. A sandwich made of West Virginia Ham was quite a treat – that ham, by the way,  was bologna. They always left a little something in their pail, just in case there was a cave in and they might be below ground all night. If they made if safely through the day, the miners would let the children have their pails on the way home and enjoy a little snack.

On Christmas Eve a hundred years ago, the mines would close early for the day at 4:30. Since there was no money for gifts, a stop at the company store might allow them to get an orange or some walnuts for the children. Often they would break a limb off a tree and either stick it in a can or in holes in the handle of a broom. This they would decorate with rags, bittersweet, popcorn, ribbon or berries.

Everyone would go to sleep early that night and be up to go to church on Christmas Day in their cleanest bib overalls. When they arrived back home, there would be one or two gifts under the tree. Gifts were often wrapped in newspaper, and then tied with rags and decorated with sprigs of berries.  Most were gifts made with love, and all Made in America.

Byesville is the coal mining capital of Ohio and their plans are to erect a monument to the coal miner at their station in downtown Byesville. When you give a donation, you are given a badge that explains the mining story.

The colors on the badge are symbolic of life down in the coal mines.

Yellow stands for a beam of sunshine that sheds light on the darkness of the dungeon of a  dark and gray mine.

Gray is for the rock/slate layers that are found above and below the seams of coal.

Black needs little explanation as it is the color of coal, also know as black diamonds, buried sunshine, or rocks that burn.

Red is for the color of blood that was spilled onto the ground from those who either lost their lives or were injured while working about the mines.

Someday soon the Coal Miners’ Memorial Statue Fund will reach its goal and the efforts of all the workers and their families will be recognized.  Coal miners helped make our country what it is today and will never be forgotten.

Now you better understand why the Spirit of Christmas should be alive in your heart today and all through the year. Charles Dickens expressed this in A Christmas Carol when  Scrooge said:

I will honor Christmas in my heart

and try to keep it all the year

May the Spirit of Christmas roll on!

Byesville Scenic Railway is located in Byesville, Ohio just off I-77 (Exit 41) South of Cambridge. Turn toward Main Street of Byesville, then left at the traffic light.  The train depot is one block on the right. Free parking is available along Second Street and Seneca Avenue. The train operates most weekends during the summer months as well as for special holidays throughout the year.

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