When deposits of the mineral silica, important for glassmaking, were found a few miles north of Laurens, a group of local businessmen organized Laurens Glass Works in 1910. Nathaniel B. Dial, who later became a U.S. senator, was among the organizers and was its first president. The local silica was never mined, however, because shipping it from the eastern part of South Carolina proved more cost-efficient.
Laurens Glass struggled during its early years. Skilled glassblowers had to be brought in from Ohio and Pennsylvania. When the company was reorganized in 1913, Nathaniel Dial’s nephew Albert was named president and served until 1928. Shortly after this reorganization, Laurens Glass obtained the first license in the United States to manufacture Coca-Cola bottles. The company remained one of the few suppliers of Coke bottles until after World War II. By the mid-1940s the automated Laurens Glass had more than four hundred employees.
Between 1959 and 1968 Laurens Glass expanded, opening plants in Henderson, North Carolina, and Ruston, Louisiana. As the soft drink industry switched to nonglass containers, the company’s main product became food jars. In 1968 the company merged with the Indian Head Corporation of Delaware, which moved its glass container headquarters to Laurens in the mid-1970s. Additional mergers further affected company operations, with subsequent corporate owners deeming the Laurens facility no longer cost-effective for modern manufacturing. In 1996 the Laurens Glass plant closed, putting four hundred people out of work.
Biondo, Steve. “Era of Laurens Glass Comes to Close.” Laurens County Advertiser, June 21, 1996, pp. 1, 16.
The Scrapbook: A Compilation of Historical Facts about Places and Events of Laurens County, South Carolina. N.p.: Laurens County Historical Society and Laurens County Arts Council, 1982.