Editor's note: This is the 206th in a series of articles recalling vanished Huntington scenes.
HUNTINGTON - For many years, the Owens-Illinois Glass Co., based in Toledo, Ohio, operated three glass factories in West Virginia - in Huntington, Fairmont and Kanawha City.
All three based their manufacturing operations on a revolutionary bottle-making machine, invented by West Virginia native Michael Owens in 1903. The success of this machine led to the establishment of the Owens Bottle Machine Co. In 1929, Owens merged his company with the Illinois Glass Co. to become Owens-Illinois.
In 1914, Charles Boldt started manufacturing glass in Huntington at a plant on the city's south side. The factory began with three furnaces and two of Michael Owens's bottle machines. In 1918, Michael Owens purchased the Huntington factory. By 1947, the plant had expanded to five furnaces and employed more than 1,100 people.
Over the years, the Huntington plant made millions of glass bottles and containers. The company's other West Virginia plants were equally busy.
But ultimately production declined sharply, as plastics gained an ever larger share of the market. As a result, the Kanawha City plant closed in 1963 and the Fairmont plant in 1982. Finally, in 1993, the Huntington plant closed, leaving 600 workers jobless. Many were long-time employees who had never worked anywhere else.
Responding to the closure, the city of Huntington purchased the idle glass plant, renamed it the Huntington Industrial Center and set about recruiting a number of industries to locate at the plant. One of these was Level 1 Fasteners, which makes high-quality fasteners for the military and NASA. In 2011, Level 1 purchased the center.
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"Lost Huntington: Volume 1" is a hardcover, full-color book of some of the city's lost landmarks. The book is likely to be of interest to anyone who enjoys history and loves Huntington.
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