Why Mount Vernon?

Although the park and its history as a glassmaking factory is significant, we have to wonder why its founders believed Mount Vernon to be uniquely important. In 1868, Peter Neff supervised the drilling of many natural gas wells near the county line of Coshocton and Knox, where the Kokosing and Mohican Rivers converge.  Gas companies soon flocked to the area, hoping to develop this abundance of natural gas. Emitting less carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than traditional fuels such as coal and wood, natural gas served also as a cheap and consistent fuel for many activities, including the energy-intensive manufacture of glass. In addition to this plentiful resource, Knox County hosted an abundance of silica sand, an important component in glassmaking. Different from river sand found near the Kokosing, silica sand is harvested from local sandstone and contains fewer impurities, creating fewer defects in the glassmaking process.

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The Smokestack and Rastin Observation Tower

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.

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Events at the Park

 The Ariel-Foundation Park, formerly a factory site, has been transformed into a multipurpose park hosting a variety of events. The public can attend the park to enjoy a concert series and other community events. Concerts take place during the summer months, highlighted by a gala day-long Fourth of July celebration centered on the Schnormeier Event Center. Another community event is the Rastin Challenge: 4-person teams participate in physical challenges including a stair climb up the Rastin Observation Tower stairs. Money raised supports a scholarship fund for Knox County residents interested in careers in safety services.

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The information for this site was written by Kenyon College students Rose Bishop, Jessica Ferrer, Charlotte Lee, and Stephanie Holstein, under the supervision of Dr. Austin Porter. Photos as credited.