Glass manufacturing burned itself out in region

Glassmaking was one of the first industries started in this country.

Although England forbade such activity – it wanted to protect its own markets – the colonists found it quicker and cheaper to make their own, particularly window panes.

Enterprising settlers founded iron forges and potteries for the same reason.

Glassmaking began in southern New Hampshire in 1781 with the Temple Glass Works and ended in 1888 with the closing of the Lyndeborough Glass Co. In between, there were factories in Keene, Suncook and Stoddard.

The Temple factory lasted a year. The project by Boston inventor Robert Hewes didn’t have the support of the town and, as with most of the factories at that time, there was a lack of transportation for raw materials and to markets. The furnaces were wood fired, and they needed a lot of it.

Making glass requires a great deal of heat to melt the sand, and most of the factories burned down at least once. Temple closed after its second fire.

The Keene factories operated from 1815 to the 1840s. When they closed, a talented glassmaker, Joseph Foster, took his expertise – as well as the molds and designs – and opened a factory in Stoddard. When that one closed in 1873, the glassblowers moved on to the Lyndeborough factory, which had opened in 1866.

At its height, it employed about 70 people, including 14 glassblowers.

Lyndeborough glass was considered the best glass made in New England. It ws the final recipient of the growing technology and the regional expertise. It also had the required quartz – a huge ledge of it on a hill above the south village.

That quarry is now mainly a haven for ravens.

Lyndebrorough also had a railroad. The line was extended from Wilton to Greenfield in 1873. The foundations of the first factory, which burned, are said to be under the railroad where it curves along what is now Glass Factory Road.

A small house at the corner of Glass Factory and Cider Mill roads was the company office. When it was taken down a couple of years ago, a treasure trove of glass pieces was found when a foundation was dug for a new house.

Although the Lyndeborough company made excellent glass and marketed its bottles all over the country and abroad, it was never able to make a perfectly clear glass. A company in Corning, N.Y., did that. The Corning glass could also be cut to resemble the high-priced wares from Europe.

The museum in Corning has some nice Lyndeborough pieces, including a presentation cane.

Old bottles are said to be the third most popular collectible, after coins and stamps. Michael George, of New Boston, who owns the site of one of the Stoddard factories, is a lifelong collector who has put together an entertaining and enlightening program that he presents to historical societies and other organizations, most recently to the Questers in Amherst.

His website is bottleshow.com. And if you have a chance, go listen to one of his presentations.

Keep up with the past with Another Perspective, which runs monthly in The Telegraph. Jessie Salisbury can be reached at 654-9704 or jessies@tellink.net.