Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Newell, West Virginia: Homer Laughlin China Co.
It always fun to watch stuff get made. This factory gives you that opportunity.
It's the Homer Laughlin China Company in Newell, only a few miles from the very top of West Virginia. That's one of the legendary companies in its field in the world. There are several plants operating, and this one features a factory outlet and tours.
The tours are free but require a reservation. About eight people can take a walk through the factory at once, led by a guide. There is some automation involved, but it's surprising just how much manpower goes into the creation of a dish or bowl. At the end of the tour, visitors are guided into a room with some historic pieces and shown a video on the company. As they leave, they get a commemorative dish marking their visit.
Pictures aren't allowed on the tour, and you should know that it is rather noisy. It's like a factory in there! Seriously, though, it was hard to hear the tour guide at times. I'm not sure how to solve that problem. At least the workers were friendly to the tourists.
There are people who love Fiesta dishes, collecting as much of it as possible. Some models are worth quite a bit as a result. There was an article by the front door on a man who proposed to his wife in the factory, such was her love for the stuff. The company even made up a special plate for the happy couple.
By the way, be sure to take a look across the Ohio River from the parking lot when visiting. The cliffs on the Ohio side are quite striking.