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Pop-Up Museum Showcases History of Wellsboro & Glassmaking

by Sara Vogt - May 21, 2021

The Wellsboro Glass Historical Association will be presenting a Pop-Up Museum on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday of the Memorial Day Weekend at 80 Main Street in Wellsboro. The shop will be open from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM, displaying molds, various glass lighting products, tile, tubing, and lots of historical pictures and publications.

“History of glass bulb making started in 1916 with Corning Glass, and they owned that factory for sixty-five years at 1 Jackson Street,” said Wellsboro historian, Skip Cavanaugh. “If you lived in Wellsboro, you knew somebody or had a relative from a father, grandfather, aunt, or uncle. Somebody worked at the Corning Glass Works to produce glass.”

This pop-up store is essential for two other significant reasons: stored at the former Dresser Facility in Wellsboro: Ribbon Machines!

The American Society of Mechanical Engineers in 1983 had designated the Ribbon Machine as the tenth International Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark. This ranking places it on a scale with the first operational steam engine in considering mechanical devices that have changed the face of history.

Will Woods, Corning Glass manager here in Wellsboro, designed the first Ribbon Machine (#399) in 1921, and it went into production in 1926.

In the 1940s, Corning Glass built faster Ribbon Machines. The descriptions below describe the two Ribbon Machines built in Wellsboro who have come home to roost!

S-1 Ribbon Machine was built in Wellsboro in 1948 and sold to Glass Bulbs Limited in London, England. GTE purchased S-1 in 1982 for the Wellsboro plant. S-1 remained in operation until 2017. A company in Versailles, Ky, purchased S-1 until that facility was closed in 2019.

#-9 Ribbon Machine was built and used in the Central Falls Rhode Island plant from 1949 to 2001 and then used until Wellsboro closed in 2017. Thankfully GROW purchased both Ribbon Machines from a demolition and salvage company in February of 2020, returning them to Wellsboro.

When the building for the museum comes to fruition, the wonder of mechanical engineering of the Ribbon Machines will once again come alive!

There is no charge to view the items in the pop-up store, but a box will be available for those who would like to donate.

If you would like more information on the history of glass in the Wellsboro area, please visit the following links.

https://www.thehomepagenetwork.com/the-ornaments-that-made-history/

https://www.thehomepagenetwork.com/preserving-wellsboros-glass-history/

Credits:

Videography: Ethan Chabala
Video Editing: Ethan Chabala
Writing: Sara Vogt
Correspondent: Sara Vogt
Guest(s): Skip Cavanaugh

Produced by Vogt Media
Home Page Sponsors: Akiko's Floral Arts