Jump to content

Marble Vacation In West Virginia


Recommended Posts

Joseph and I went to West Virginia this past week and spent our whole time visiting marble places, marble collectors, and marble artists. We started on Monday with a tour of marble factory sites. Ron had his grand daughters Mary and Sarah with him and the 5 of us pretty much spent the day visiting old marble factories. Weldon and I had done this a few years back with Ron and I was amazed at how much deterioration has occurred since then. Time doesn't stand still.


this is all that's left at this site. I didn't have a notebook to write down what Ron was telling us. This is near Cairo, WV. Joseph says this is Heaton. I thought it was Cairo Novelty. They are close together. So, Ron or someone who knows can post which marble factory this is.


This is a batch glass mixer. Sometime back when Rock Wilson bought the old Alley Agate plant in Pennsboro, WV, he took this home, cleaned it up and it sits very close to the road. It gets used to mix concrete now.


My grandson, Joseph, Mary and Sarah and Ron Shepherd.


Alley Agate factory in Glass Hollow near Pennsboro has really changed since I saw it last.


The roof has collapsed. Someone used a digging machine and punched through the roof, through the floor, and dug under the factory.


The brick structure on the ground left of center, is the old lehr.


Champion Agate is the best preserved factory in Marble Hollow and it's not doing too well. Rust damage everywhere. Piles of cullet and discarded marbles are everywhere to the left of the building. Joseph, Mary, and Sarah walked around in that area and Joseph took some pictures.


Pile of cullet


This looks to be cranberry glass cullet and some other trash.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


More cullet at Champion. Discarded marbles


Joseph picked up a red and a blue cleary marble there. David McCullough verified that Champion made the clearies.


Our next stop was Sammy Hogue's shop. Sammy is working on an old cutting mechanism. He's making it useable. Ron and Joseph are looking on.


Mary and Sarah along with their grandfather are checking out the cutting mechanism.


Sammy was making a marble when we first got there and we watched him finish it up.



Sammy is seated at his glass worker's bench working on the marble.



When he finished working on the marble and put it in the kiln to anneal, he had a treat for the children.


Sammy and his brother Joe have restored this Model A and all the kids went for a ride.


When Joseph got out he said "This was the most awesome ride I ever had."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sammy gave each of the children a marble and i bought some marbles for Joseph and a friend named Joel.



This is the marble Joseph picked out for me to buy for him.



Sammy showed the kids two trays of marbles they could pick from as a gift and Joseph picked this one.



My friend likes a blue and green Sammy Hogue that I have in my collection so I picked out this one for him

The five of us went to lunch and then traveled to Parkersburg to see what is left of Vitro Agate.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


A wall at Vitro Agate


The road into the old factory was new. Ron remarked that it previously was in bad shape and a cable was across the entrance. We drove right in to the plant. Workers were digging a deep hole outside of the old factory. They told us they were laying new sewer lines.


This man seemed to be the foreman. He asked us if we were looking for marbles. We told him we were looking at old factory sites. He told us his men had found marbles where they were digging and had filled plastic sandwich bags with marbles on their lunch break. Ron and I told them we would look if they liked and tell them what they had. This man promptly emptied his pockets and showed us his. He had game marbles, all reds, cateyes, and a one inch marble that just needed one more color to be a parrot. He wanted to know if they were worth anything. Then he walked back down the road and returned with a sandwich bag full of marbles. It was more of the same. He told us when the men stopped working, we could scratch around in the pile of dirt and find some marbles. Ron's grand daughters had left us before this factory, so it was just Ron, Joseph, and me. We walked around the grounds and Ron showed us some places he used to dig.


These are the worker's cars. Back in the day you would have seen Art Fisher's Thunderbird sitting right where that first car on the left was parked. And nearby it you would have seen Louis L. Moore's vehicle.


The piles of dirt left in front of the old building are left overs from laying the sewer pipe. We walked in here. This where Linda Simmons father had his office. We saw the door to his office still standing in the doorway, graffitti sprayed on it. An old burned travel loader was there too. Linda wrote an article for the Texas Marble Collector's last newsletter and she had provided pictures of her visit here. The factory has been burned twice so a lot of twisted metal is laying around.


Linda's photos from her visit this year showed big piles of cullet still there. We looked in every building and all cullet has been removed. Made me wonder if the pictures in the Texas Marble Collectors newsletter had prompted someone to go and get that cullet.


This wall looks fragile. Actually looks like a strong breeze would blow it down.

When the workers left, Ron, Joseph, and I walked to the "dig" and scratched around in the dirt.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As we were leaving Vitro Agate i looked up and between the old building and the place we parked, there were two deer feeding.


I took several pictures of this doe and the spike buck with her. They were not afraid of us. I got out of the car and walked within 10 feet of her and all she did was watch me.


This spike buck, on the other hand, moved very slowly, one leg at a time, and sneaked into the bushes. His movement was barely noticeable.

Now I am going to back track because I left out part of the events of the day. We drove to Pennsboro and visited Davis Glass. Even that has changed. I was there the last time before the remodeling and enlarging. The shop now has more food for sale than it has glass. Steve Davis had gone to lunch and we didn't get to see him, but we did buy some marbles.



Joseph's marble, I think is a Rick Davis.



My marble is a Rick Davis.


I bought two Rick Davis for myself. This one is larger than the first.


I got this one, also a Rick Davis, for my friend Joel.


Another factory site - Mid Atlantic Glass. It's shut down for many years now and looks like someone is storing lawn care equipment in the building. This big round tank is where we used to find Sammy. Sammy was the the lead blocker and sat in a glass worker's bench right near this tank.

When we left Sammy's we went to Pennsboro, visited Champion and Alley and also went to the home of David McCullough. David gave me a marble which I'll show later. He called Joseph into the dining room and got out an unsorted box of Mamie's Run. This run is the one with Eaton Patriots. He said to Joseph, "You know what to look for. Reach in there and get some good ones." Joseph picked out 6 Eaton Patriots, 3 with lutz and 3 plain. Joseph thought that was awesome too.


Joseph's Eaton Patriots

Edited by sissydear
Link to comment
Share on other sites

All in the same day, we did all of the marble factory visits and studio visits. That evening we went to the home of Julia and Howard Powell. Joseph thinks Julia's painted marbles are just the best. He had never met Julia and Hod so he was really looking forward to that and to picking his own marbles that julia had painted. Grand Daddy or I had always picked for him. Howard gave Joseph a beautiful parrot, Vitro Agate. He wanted Joseph to have a parrot with 5 colors.



Joseph is proud of his parrot. He has become a fan of Vitro Agate marbles. Looking at my marbles, Joseph has decided that Vitro had more patterns than other companies, and used more colors in their marbles that the others. He likes 6 and 7 colors in a marble.

Julia got out her painted marbles and Joseph picked first.


He chose Pegasus


The back of the Sammy Hogue marble that Julia put Pegasus on.


Joseph asked to have two and since I am called "The Spoiler", I let him choose another.


White Tiger and the back of the Sammy Hogue marble that serves as a "canvas" for Julia


My friend Joel, has admired my parrot marble by Julia, so I found one that she had painted that is smaller than mine, but the birds are prettier. This is Joel's parrot marble.



Sure hope Joel likes his new marble.

I chose last. Here is my Julia marble "The Buffalo Hunt".


We did all of the above in one day. I'll post more later. i need a break.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Our second day, we drove back to Ellenboro and got directions from Sammy Hogue to Eddie Seese's studio. I had trouble finding him because I was turning before the Dairy Queen and I was supposed to turn between the Dairy Queen and the Methodist Church. I finally got it right and we drove up a single lane road to Eddie's place. We had a nice visit and bought these marbles.



This is my marble.



Joseph chose this one.



My second Eddie Seese marble.



Joseph's second Eddie Seese.



I chose this Eddie Seese for my friend Joel.

Sammy gave me a box of Sammy's Mountain Marbles called Sammy's Birthday run. I took them out of the box for a picture.


The next day we drove south to Hurricane, West Virginia. A good friend Sonny Miller gave Joseph some torch marble lessons. Joseph loved it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


Sonny makes marbles in his garage and he is showing Joseph how to do it. He gave Joseph the marble he made. I didn't get a pic of it because Joseph lost two of his marbles in the car. They went under the back seat. My son had to remove the seat to find the marbles and I didn't get to do pics of the two.


Joseph has a glass punty in his left hand and he's picking up a colored rod with the tongs in his right hand.


Joseph is attaching the second colored rod.


Sonny is helping Joseph shape the colored rods, moving them together

Link to comment
Share on other sites

4-sonny-reattaching-punty.jpgJoseph let the punty rod get cold, it broke and Sonny had to help reattach the punty.


Joseph is melting 6 colored rods together.


He's checking his marble


Sonny is helping Joseph attach his second punty.


The first punty was removed and Joseph is melting the bits of clear glass punty into his marble.


Shaping the marble using a marble block


Starting the second marble


Attaching the color rods


The small marble on the left was made by Sonny Miller. Joseph made the larger one. Lest you think Joseph is a child prodigy or marble making is easy, I need to tell you that Joseph has worked glass before. He has not done soft glass marbles before. While the marble is really pretty and this is his first, the bottom of the marble is flat. Getting the marble round is the hardest part and takes a lot of practice. On the second day of working with Sonny, Joseph got a lot better and worked a lot faster, but he needs a lot of practice in making the marbles round. We had to leave before the second two came out of the kiln so I don't have pics of his second day marbles.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

These pics are from Joseph's second day and you can see that Sonny Miller is a lot more relaxed and Joseph isn't requiring step by step instructions.


Now Joseph knows how to attach the colored rods to his punty and then round off the ends of the colored rods, fold them in the middle, and melt.


He's attaching a colored rod here and Sonny has moved away from him. Sonny's big fear was that Joseph would reach into the flame and get a bad burn. Joseph did not get burned.


Adding another colored rod he has to keep the first waving in the flame and heat the new rod until it is red on the end. I think it was oxblood this time.


He's melting the rods all together and then he'll heat the middle and fold them. He learned quickly. Sonny told him that he didn't want him to think he got the marbles round the first day so he didn't "fix" them for Joseph. On the second day, Sonny wanted his marbles to be more round so he helped with blocking them. The marbles should arrive this week. When something is really great to Joseph, he describes it as "AWESOME". That's his word for this experience. Sonny has taught a lot of people to make marbles and he was very patient and protective of Joseph. I enjoyed watching.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Now for the vintage marbles that Joseph and i found. I'm starting with Akro Agate.



I found a brick.

I already had a marble like the one below. It's in my Vitro box. I found this one on the trip.


It's not Vitro. Ron Shepherd and Howard Powell told me that it is definitely Akro Agate. I've got to find the one I have with the Vitros and put it where it belongs.


I got this 3 colored Akro for Joel.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The rest of the marbles I bought are Vitro Agate to the best of my knowledge.


I don't normally buy damaged marbles and i don't collect cateyes except for some hybrid Vitro Agates. I've never seen one like this. It has 8 rays. Two are dark blue, two light blue, and 4 white.

It's 3/4 inch and must have been a child's favorite shooter, judging by the damage on it.


5/8th inch hybrid cateyes


3/4ths inch hybrid cateyes


Vitro Agate pastel shooter 3/4 ths inch


Vitro Agate patch 5/8


Another Vitro patch 5/8


Vitro peewee patch 7/16


Vitro 13/16




Blue and Green Vitro 1 inch




Vitro Tri lite or is it MK?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Create New...