Knox Glass plant marker dedication planned Saturday

After years of efforts to gain a Texas Historical Marker for Palestine’s former Knox Glass bottle plant, employees of the plant will at long last see their hard work come to fruition at a marker dedication ceremony this week.The Knox Glass Texas Historical Marker will be dedicated at 2 p.m.

Saturday at the west end of the plant site, located at 2500 W. Oak St. in Palestine.

According to former Knox employee and plant historian Jimmy Odom, a brief history of the plant will be presented at the dedication, with a microphone and public address system available for former employees to share memories of their days at the plant.

“The impact that the plant made on Anderson County was greater than anything since the coming of the railroad some 75 years before in 1872,” Odom said. “The Texas Historical Commission agreed to let the application for a marker go forward on that fact, because the Knox Co. was not a Texas based concern.”

According to Odom, Knox Glass was based in Knox, Penn. and traces its beginnings to about 1917.

Roy Underwood founded the glass bottle and jars plant and by the 1930s joined by brother Chester R. Underwood established the Knox Company at Jackson, Miss.

Because existing markets for their products made in Mississippi extended into Texas, shipping their wares to the west became a factor in locating a plant in central East Texas to better serve customers between Dallas and Houston.

Jim Keller, a sales representative for Knox, arrived in Palestine one early March morning and contacted Clifford Huffsmith, a local banker and member of the Chamber of Commerce.

J.E. Angley and Clyde Hanks joined Huffsmith and before noon the team had put together a package plan for Keller to consider. The trio had received a natural gas quote from the Meeker Brothers for the installation of a direct pipeline from their gas wells located just west of Palestine to the plant’s proposed site.

“The low price of natural gas sealed the deal for Knox Glass,” Odom said, “since the furnace to produce glass required a huge amount of heat to melt the products.”

Sand, soda ash, feldspar, lime could be brought in easily by truck and by the Missouri Pacific Railroad. The land available was secured and the city provided water and fire protection.

The project moved very fast as the bankers put together a task force that produced a final package deal that was to be taken to Dallas and flown to Knox, Penn. Within two weeks Chester R. Underwood and his staff came to Palestine and closed the deal.

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600450 Knox Glass plant marker dedication planned Saturday
Date: 11 May 2006

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