This past weekend I traveled to Elwood Indiana for a visit to the Elwood Glass Festival. While there were some bright points to the trip it was generally disappointing in that the “Glass” part of the festival has been for the most part forgotten. In 1886 the Ball brothers were looking to build a factory for their Mason Jars and they chose Indiana. Most of you rural folks like me who can some of their garden produce use Mason jars which were originally produced in or near Elwood/Muncie. The Ball Corporation was a big deal to Elwood and the surrounding area for until the 1990s when it moved it headquarters to Colorado and sold off what little remained of its glass canning business. Here is a little about its hay days from Wikipedia:
Despite the economic panic of 1893, the company was able to produce 22 million fruit jars for the year beginning in September 1894, and 37 million jars by 1897. …
The company’s F. C. Ball machine, patented in 1898, introduced mass production into its glass-blowing process and gave it a competitive market advantage. By 1905 the company was producing 60 million canning jars per year and had acquired other glass manufacturers, expanding its operations to include seven factories in addition to its main facilities at Muncie
Now back to my recent visit. The only glass related events at the festival were a couple of small glass blowing shops that were open for viewing. I did buy a couple of glass paperweights from them. There is little left of any evidence of its Ball history. The festival itself was pretty typical of most around today. It was made up of vendors mostly selling trinkets and such. Of course it did have a midway and the usual food vendors but nothing really to do with glass.
In some ways Elwood continues to be associated with canning in that the Red Gold Tomatoes are produced there. That is a privately owned family business that was started in 1913 which was during the Ball Corporation apex. I may be prejudice but I think their tomatoes are the best around.
It ended up that my highlight of the weekend was the Vintage Rollers Car Club’s annual event. Here are some pictures of that gathering. Being a “car guy” it was a natural for me.
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