Carolina, Clinchfield & Ohio Railroad and Blue Ridge Pottery

Sister is bringing this fabulous piece of BLUE RIDGE POTTERY to the Sweet South Cottage French Country Flea Market on October 19, 2013.

When The Railroader’s Daughter(s) began planning our pop-up vintage shop for the flea market, Gail discovered a few hidden treasures as she started scouring her closets, garage and boxes of treasures – things she had tucked away. What a coincidence that she would find a great vintage piece with a railroad history. As an antique dealer for many years, Gail has collected rare pieces of fine cut crystal, unusual old world furniture, delicate intricately detailed handmade linens and so much more. This sale will be another wonderful, fun-filled sister’s adventure.

I can’t help but interject my (opinion) – In the brief history below, I took note by underlining the “trickle down” effects of good old fashioned capitalism and the made in the USA benefit to our economyOnce imports returned, American workers lost their jobs. Just sayin’ …

GAIL blueridgepottery

The Carolina, Clinchfield & Ohio Railroad constructed a railroad line through the mountains of northeast Tennessee in the early 1900s. In an attempt to encourage industry along this line, they sold several acres of land along what is now Ohio Avenue in Erwin to several investors for the establishment of a pottery. The kaolinite and feldspar deposits in the adjacent hills made Erwin an ideal place for the manufacture of ceramics, and the pottery plant was likely in operation by late 1916. The plant initially had seven beehive kilns— four for glaze and decorator firing, and three for bisque firing— and was surrounded by approximately forty houses for company employees.[1]

The earliest dishware produced at the Erwin plant consisted of gold-trimmed, decal-decorated dishes stamped under the name “Clinchfield Potteries.” In April 1920, the pottery was incorporated under the name “Southern Potteries, Incorporated.” E.J. Owens, an associate of the Minerva, Ohio-based Owens China Company, was named the initial president of Southern Potteries, but, in 1922, the company was purchased by another Owens manager, Charles Foreman. Foreman expanded Southern Potteries in 1923, and within a few years replaced the coal-fired kilns with the newer oil-fired continuous-tunnel kilns, and introduced the underglaze painting technique. Dozens of local women were trained in the freehand painting process.[3]

Southern Potteries initially stamped its dishware pieces with the name “Southern Potteries,” but in the 1930s had begun to use its now-famousBlue Ridge” IM000117.JPGstamp, referring to the mountains surrounding Erwin. The bright, clear colors and uninhibited style of Blue Ridge dishware gave it an immediate edge over the rigid styles of decal-decorated dishware, and by 1938 Southern Potteries had transitioned entirely to a hand-painting operation. The plant employed 300 workers in 1940 and its dishware was being marketed in showrooms across the country, including storefronts at Chicago’s Merchandise Mart and on Fifth Avenue in New York. Blue Ridge dishes were also featured in ads by Sears and Quaker Oats.[1]

The outbreak of World War II halted the flow of imported pottery, and U.S. potteries drastically expanded to meet the sudden spike in demand. By the late-1940s, Southern Potteries employed over 1,000 workers and produced 324,000 hand-painted pieces per week, making it the largest hand-painted pottery in the United States.[1]

Imports returned in the early 1950s, however, and the rising popularity of plastic dinnerware began to take a toll on Southern Pottery’s profits. The plant initially dropped employees’ hours to half-time to avoid layoffs, but by 1956 had slashed its workforce to 600. In January 1957, the stockholders of Southern Potteries voted to close the plant and liquidate its assets. The plant was sold to a casket company, and the company’s molds were sold to regional potters, most notably the Cash Family’s Clinchfield Artware. [3] FIND OUT MORE… SOURCE

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3 thoughts on “Carolina, Clinchfield & Ohio Railroad and Blue Ridge Pottery

  1. I always enjoy reading your blog. My wife and I have just had a full weekend of flea markets. We like to look around and of course buy a treasure or two.

  2. I was searching for my father on Google and found instead a picture of my grandfather, Luther Hufford Davidson, Sr. on your blog. How amazing!

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