Still the tallest architectural structure in Knox County, the smokestack is a centerpiece among the factory ruins that pay tribute to the Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company’s workers and their families. The 280-foot smokestack once expelled flue gases from the glassmaking facility. It was constructed by way of the slip form method, a continuous pouring of concrete that resulted in a smooth, uninterrupted surface. Lloyd Hull, a 31-year employee of PPG who worked mainly in the Carpenter Shop, recounted stories of pranks and bets between workers in the shop. One incident, in particular, involved the smokestack and a ten dollar bet between two co-workers to climb it. According to Hull, the man managed to successfully climb up the smokestack without any protective gear, but whether he ever received the $10 he was promised has been lost to history.
Today, visitors can catch a glimpse of a view similar to the one Hull’s co-worker may have seen by climbing 224 steps to a 140-foot high observation deck. Rastin Observation Tower, which opened on July 4, 2015, consists of a steel spiral staircase that wraps around PPG’s industrial smokestack. The tower was designed by Ted Schnormeier, the Ariel-Foundation Park director, and is named in honor of Tom Rastin, Executive Vice President of Ariel Corporation. Its sweeping views provide a link between the past and present of Mount Vernon and its community.
Keirns, Aaron J. Ariel-Foundation Park. Mt. Vernon, OH: Foundation Park Conservancy, 2015.
Video of Rastin Observation Tower being climbed on opening day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Burb53cwRZA