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L.E. Smith Glass Company

Youghiogheny

L.E. Smith Glass Company

thumbnailPunch Bowl

Location Details

PHONE: 724-547-3544 800-537-6484
ADDRESS: SR31 & 1900 Liberty St.
Mt. Pleasant, PA 15666
HOURS: Store Hours:Mon-Fri 9am-5pm; Sat:10am-4pm; Sun 11am-5pm;Tours Mon-Fri 9am-1pm

Description

The beginnings of the American glass industry can be traced back to the Jamestown Colony, circa 1608. According to the L. E. Smith Glass Company, not much has changed in 400 years. Workers at the plant still use many of the same tools and techniques their forebears did.

That’s something visitors can see for themselves during daily factory tours. Past the double doors that separate the gift shop from the plant, tanks of molten glass reach temperatures as high as 2,500 degrees F. Silica sand, ash, potash, limestone, and cullet (broken or crushed glass) melt to a red-hot, honey-like liquid.

Dipping into the tank, the gatherer takes a gob of molten glass onto the end of a punty (a solid iron rod with a clay head). Working with the presser, he drops the gob into a mold. The newly formed and still-hot candy dish, dinner plate, or bunny rabbit figurine is then carried on a simple wooden paddle to the lehr (a long annealing oven) to cool. From there, each piece is inspected for chips, cracks, and bubbles.

Following the tour, visitors are ushered back to the factory outlet. Using many of its original molds, some forged nearly a century ago, the company makes colored and crystal glass items, such as punch bowls, vases, and pitchers.

The company got its start in 1907, producing mustard containers and inkwells. By the early 1920s, L. E. Smith added automobile headlight lenses to its list of products, and for the next two decades made more than half of all Ford lenses. Recognizing the value of handmade glass, L. E. Smith carries on the traditions of this time- honored industry.

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