Historically, some glass plants were very large, such as the Owens-Illinois, Westinghouse, Monongah and Hazel-Atlas plants. Each of those plants employed between 1,000 and 2,000 workers, or even more. Other plants were very small, sometimes employing a single hot-glass artist who produced handcrafted vases, paperweights and marbles.
Other photographs in the book feature parade floats, Labor Day parades, company bands and baseball players wearing local glass company team uniforms.
Dramatic photographs from Wheeling show a fire engulfing the Frank Glass Co. plant and water from the Ohio River flooding the Eagle Glass & Manufacturing plant, both in 1907.
Fires and floods posed major problems to major glass plants throughout the state, contributing to the economic downfall of several companies, Six writes.
For many years, West Virginia glass plants also produced millions of soda bottles and miles of window glass.
"The number of hot glass producers in West Virginia," Six writes, "peaked in the 1920s before the automation of window glass and the economic depression both took immense tolls."
The state's glass industry enjoyed national esteem, Six points out, reflected in the use of Blenko glass for windows in the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., and for tables in the White House during the presidency of John F. Kennedy.
A definitive and engaging history of the peak years of glass manufacturing in the state was published five years ago by West Virginia University professor Ken Fones-Wolf -- "Glass Towns: Industry, Labor and Political Economy in Appalachia, 1890-1930s."
During those years, Fones-Wolf writes, glass factories played a "major role in the economic development of northern West Virginia."
The other major economic force came from energy companies that produced coal, natural gas and oil.
West Virginia's share of the nation's glassworkers rose from just 3 percent in 1890 to 12 percent by 1915 and 15.3 percent by the beginning of the Great Depression.
Many glassworkers immigrated to West Virginia from France, Belgium, Germany and England, Fones-Wolf adds.
Fred Barkey, a retired history professor, wrote "Cinderheads in the Hills -- The Belgian Window Glass Workers of West Virginia," published by the West Virginia Humanities Foundation in 1988.
Barkey focuses on one major group of immigrant workers who made glass here.
People interested in getting a copy of Six's new book can contact the West Virginia Book Co. at 888-982-7472 or www.wvbookco.com.
Reach Paul J. Nyden at pjny...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5164.