Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/460

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
442
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

was granted. The Legislature voted them a loan of three thousand pounds for eight years, three years without interest and five years at five per cent. Three years later the enterprise was moved to Hamilton, a manufacturing town which had just been laid out some ten miles to the west of Albany. The plant consisted of two glass-houses with three large furnaces. Thirteen glass-blowers were employed, and turned out twenty thousand feet of window glass a month—nearly half an acre—besides a fair output of bottles and flint glass. The fuel was gathered from the pine forests of the neighborhood. The methods employed seem to have been much the same as elsewhere, except that they were carried out with much system, and that kelp, the ashes of sea-weed, were substituted for the purified potash. The product found a ready market, and for some time the industry was in a most flourishing condition. But, with the cutting down of the surrounding forests, fuel became more and more scarce. The final abandonment of the enterprise in 1815 is said to have been due to this cause.

But in none of the colonies were the conditions for glass-making, and particularly of bottles and the coarser kinds of hollow ware, so entirely favorable as in southern New Jersey. Extensive pine forests covered thousands of acres, while sand of sufficient purity existed in large quantities and had only to be carted a few feet to the glass-house. Qualities which make the region most unpromising for other purposes have devoted it to the use of the glass-maker. For more than a hundred years it has been the home of the bottle trade. About the middle of the last century a glass-house was established in Salem County. It was known as Wistar's, and employed a number of German glass-blowers. Other glass-houses were established throughout the county, illustrating even at that early day the now well-recognized gregariousness of manufactures. Many of them were subsequently abandoned. There was a general exodus of German workmen to the spot, which has since been called Glassborough. Here in 1775 they established a bottle factory which is still in existence, and is the oldest continuous glass-house in America, as well as the largest of our present bottle factories. It was, however, many years before the manufacture of other grades of glass was attempted. The conditions best adapt the region to the production of green glass. Though window glass has since been successfully made, the competition with other districts farther west is very unequal; so long as the locality continues to be a glass producer, it will probably always maintain its original place in the glass industry.

There is a certain picturesqueness about the development of the industry in Pennsylvania. In Penn's time, and indeed for many years after, it was simply a succession of failures, but these failures are hardly less interesting than the successes elsewhere.