White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, Blenko Glass Water Bottle
We are excited to unveil another piece of American-made glassware to commemorate the C&O Railway’s deep history in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. Created in partnership with the Blenko Glass Company of Milton, West Virginia, the custom design features an architectural diagram of the C&O Railway’s famous brick depot in White Sulphur Springs etched on the iconic “384 water bottle” in Clover Green. The architectural diagram of the structure utilized for the etched art comes from the C&O Historical Society’s vast archives of C&O Railway company documents and diagrams.
Blenko has manufactured 150 pieces, one for every year since the C&O Railway mainline was completed between the Virginia coast and the Ohio River at Huntington, passing through White Sulphur Springs. Each water bottle is numbered (1 of 150, 2 of 150, et cetera) and dated 2023, further distinguishing this limited run of hand-blown glass. During development with Blenko, the rare Clover Green color, not regularly available, was chosen to symbolize the depot’s deep connections within Greenbrier County.
The brick railway depot, completed by the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway in 1930, is a one-of-a-kind structure that served the region throughout the 20th century. The station's service continues to this day with Amtrak’s tri-weekly service to White Sulphur Springs through the passenger train The Cardinal. Still standing nearly 100 years later, this current depot replaced older station structures that served passengers visiting White Sulphur Springs by rail.
Beneath the archival drawing of the depot on this Blenko design is an etching that reads, “White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia” in a historically-accurate typeface that was used by the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway in their last decades of passenger service, which served the brick depot in Greenbrier County until Amtrak service began in 1971. On the opposite side of the water bottle from the station drawing is an etched C&O Railway advertising insignia known as the "Steam Train" logo, used by the C&O Railway’s marketing department starting in 1932 and appearing in publications through 1948.
In this unique insignia from the archives of the C&O Historical Society, the railroad’s "C" and "O" appears at an angle, with a steam-powered passenger train running below, along with the slogan, “The Route to Historyland.” In the 1932-1948 period, this was used by the C&O Railway to market its many historical destinations that passengers could visit along its route.
The Chesapeake & Ohio Railway owned The Greenbrier resort hotel at White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, during most of the 20th century. The hotel itself dates from the pre-Civil War era as one of the major mineral “Springs of the Virginias.”
When Melville E. Ingalls became C&O president in 1890, he wanted to buy the “Old White” hotel, but it was not for sale, so he bought “The Homestead” resort hotel not far away at Hot Springs, Va., and built a C&O branch to serve it.
However, the C&O management under President George Stevens did finally acquire the Old White in 1910. A new hotel, called “The Greenbrier” was built and opened in 1913. From that point onward, the hotel served not only the public, particularly people from the eastern cities, but was a major location for the C&O’s management meetings and other gatherings by America's largest corporations. It also was once called “C&O’s Crown Jewel.” With direct access to the major eastern cities via rail, The Greenbrier became one of America’s major resorts with direct Pullman cars operating to and from New York until the takeover of passenger trains by Amtrak in 1971.
Mr. James Arnett, Creative Director for Blenko Glass Company, expressed his support for the partnership with the C&O Historical Society, “Blenko Glass Company is pleased to work with local and regional nonprofits and educational groups to provide custom etched, handmade West Virginian glassware that celebrates our regional heritage and history. The ties between our area, Blenko’s glassmaking, and the railroad go deep.”
The White Sulphur Springs depot 384 water bottles from Blenko Glass Company measure 8” tall, 6.5” wide, and hold up to 36 fluid ounces.
The C&O Historical Society has previously partnered with the Blenko Glass Company to manufacture hand-blown glass pieces featuring the organization’s logo, the City of St. Albans, as well as an insignia from the infamous Dunglen Hotel in Thurmond, West Virginia. Blenko’s unique ability to combine their vast manufacturing experience with modern, digital-age techniques has made it possible to create these history-themed pieces with tremendous quality and accuracy.
When creating historical items for sale in support of our organization, which derives its revenue only from membership dues, retail sales, and donations from the public, the C&O Historical Society has made an effort to use American-based manufacturers wherever possible. In 2022, our non-profit organization collaborated with another West Virginia manufacturer, the Fiesta Tableware Company of Newell, to re-create a historically-accurate reproduction of the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway’s last china pattern used in its dining car service. The “Chessie” china pattern featured the railroad’s famous mascot and was used on board their trains from 1955-1972. At their peak, the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway’s passenger trains ran from the Virginia shore, throughout Appalachia, and to Michigan.