7 Incredible Stops on the Indiana Glass Trail

7 Incredible Stops on the Indiana Glass Trail

7 Incredible Stops on the Indiana Glass Trail

One of the most beautiful experiences in Indiana is the stained glass trail through the northern part of the state. Glass history in Indiana is in part due to the discovery of natural gas in the 1880s. The first major commercial gas source came on September 15, 1886, in Eaton, Indiana.

This discovery covered an area of ​​5000 square miles. Enjoy traveling through the small farming towns and the larger towns as you explore their glorious stained glass treasures. Combined, they create a wondrous treasure trove of the natural gas phenomenon, glass history, and stained glass sites in northern Indiana and beyond.

Note: I have visited a few of the places mentioned on organized tours. However, all opinions are my own.

Mural in Dunkirk by Pamela Bliss
Glass Capital of Indiana mural by Pamela Bliss
(Photo Credit: Cindy Ladage)

1. Dunkirk

With 23 glass factories, Dunkirk has been dubbed the ‘Glass Capital of Indiana’. Stop at the Dunkirk Glass Museum. Their website states, “There are currently over 20,000 pieces of glassware from 110 factories around the world on display at the museum. We have glass made locally at Indiana Glass in Dunkirk and other factories in the area, including 25 glassware. stained glass lamps, 25 stained glass windows and an exhibition of cup plates, mainly manufactured on the East Coast.

The small museum is connected to the library. Only seen the museum from the outside window, but want to come back.

There is also a memorial to Benjamin E. Rubrect, the first secretary of the Flint Glass Workers Union of North America. He was an active member from the union’s inception in July 1878 until his death in 1922.

Dunkirk also has a mural by artist Pamela Bliss featuring the Glass Capital featuring a photo of the Dunkirk Speedcat train.

Pro tip: Stop and dine at the Glass Capital Grill. Tried the pork chops and loved them!

The Jay County Courthouse in Portland, Indiana
Jay County Courthouse
(Photo Credit: Roberto Galan / Shutterstock.com)

2. Portland

Portland is in Jay County. Construction of the Jay County Courthouse began in 1915 and was completed in 1919. The courthouse is constructed of Bedford stone with handsome columns and has marble walls and floors. Inside the dome is a stunning stained glass window. The courthouse has brass door entrances and has four historic paintings, making this a great stop on the stained glass trail.

The Jay County Historical Society Museum in Portland offers artifacts and history of the gas boom. This museum is one of several sites featured on the Jay County Gas Boom Driving Tour.

Also on the Gas Boom Driving Tour is Ashbury Methodist Church, which features beautiful stained glass windows. Construction began during the gas boom in 1897, but due to funding, it took years to complete. The windows are great!

The Elwood Haynes mural, painted by Pamela Bliss, is located on Meridian and Arch streets. The mural shares information about Jay County’s most notable inventor. The gas boom brochure states: “Elwood Haynes invented the first horseless carriage and many of the tools important to the Jay County natural gas explosion. Elwood was born in Portland in 1857 and moved with his family to Kokomo after the gas boom started.”

Stop at the Jay County Fairgrounds to see Floral Hall. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, built in 1883 and completed in 1891, Floral Hall is a 2.5-story octagonal frame building that is also located on the gas boom path!

Monroe Sieberling built this Queen Anne Romanesque architectural masterpiece, construction of which began in 1889 and was completed in the fall of 1891.
Monroe Sieberling built this Queen Anne Romanesque architectural masterpiece, construction of which began in 1889 and was completed in the fall of 1891.
(Photo Credit: Cindy Ladage)

3. Coconut

When natural gas was discovered in Kokomo, an industrial revolution started in the city. Today there are many wonderful stops as a result. The Indiana Natural Gas Company leased 23,000 acres of land. Assuming that gas production would take several hundred years, they invited companies to come to Kokomo to offer free gas. One company that was lured to town was the Kokomo Opalescent Gas Co.

Charles Edward Henry was born in Paris in 1846 and eventually came to the US where he began his career as a skilled glass chemist in New York. When he heard of the gas boom he came to Kokomo. Production started at Kokomo Opalescent Gas Co. on November 13, 1888. Today it is the oldest glass factory in the US and the only one that still mixes its 22,000 colors by hand. Book a tour and enjoy their amazing gift shop.

The Howard County Museum and Seiberling Mansion are all a beautiful place! The gas explosion brought Monroe Seiberling to Kokomo. Founder of the Diamond Plate Glass Company, once the largest plate glass factory in the country, also started Kokomo Strawboard and other factories.

Seiberling began construction on this masterpiece of Queen Anne and Romanesque architecture in 1889 and completed it in the fall of 1891. The woodwork in the natural gas-heated home includes oak, walnut, maple, cherry, mahogany, and tulip poplar.

The George Kingston family has lived here the longest. Kingston, an agricultural and automotive giant, invented the carburetor used in Ford’s Model T. Kingston Products made roller skates and a range of other items. After the Kingstons left, the mansion became the Indiana University Kokomo until 1965.

In 1972, the building, the Elliott House (which they use for events), and the two carriage houses were donated to the Howard County Historical Society. Through renovations, this home and its contents tell the story of Howard County’s gas boom and history.

One of the buildings of the former Diamond Plate Glass factory is now an antiques mall, the Original Treasure Mart. The building is a treasure trove that has been preserved and is filled with antiques.

Metallurgist, inventor and car designer Elwood Haynes was born in Portland and moved to Kokomo. He became the manager of the Natural Gas Company when he invented the thermostat and a cooling device. Traveling by horse, he grew tired of the long distances and made blueprints for the horseless carriage. On July 4, 1894, he made his first ride in the gasoline-powered horseless carriage.

One of Elwood Haynes' cars on display at the museum in Kokomo
One of Elwood Haynes’ cars on display at the museum in Kokomo
(Photo Credit: Cindy Ladage)

For example, in 1894 Haynes invented the first commercially successful gasoline-powered car in the United States. The Elwood Haynes Museum offers both a tour of the house and an insight into his inventions. During a visit you can also see one of his cars.

Pro tip: Dine at the Half Moon Brewery and enjoy great shrimp and creamed corn. The Irish Pub, Cook McDoogals in the historic center offers great fish and chips and a beautiful stained glass window.

4. Wabash

Wabash, Indiana, is a charming riverside town. The Visit Wabash County Tourist Office has beautiful stained glass that comes from the Opalescent Glass Factory. The building next door, Modoc’s, also has this beautiful factory stained glass.

Carrie Steinweg of Chicago Foodie Sisters and I were hosted at The Sanctuary Overnight Event Hub. This amazing place is a Gothic style church from 1903 that has become an Overnight Event Hub. Located just blocks from historic downtown Wabash, Indiana, it takes your breath away. The beautiful wooden doors, furnishings and state-of-the-art kitchen just add to the charm.

The historic Eagles Theater is a wonderful treasure. Although there is no stained glass, this venue, originally built in 1906, is now a five-story building that houses a nostalgic theater for movies and live entertainment.

Pro tip: If you run while in town, take a Visit Wabash County Trolley Tour!

Stained glass in the Allen County Courthouse in Fort Wayne
Stained glass in the Allen County Courthouse
(Photo Credit: Cindy Ladage)

5. Fort Wayne

Fort Wayne is outside the area of ​​the gas explosion; however, they have great buildings and glass locations. A National Historic Landmark, the Allen County Courthouse is known for its murals, sculptures, scagliola faux marbling, unique tile floor designs, and abundant stained glass. The central dome itself is a whopping 20 feet tall and 200 pounds.

There is a resurgence of public art and murals in the downtown area. Follow the public art route pass. My favorite art is an alley sculpture called “77 Steps” with over 300 hanging tubes of colored lights running the length of the alley.

Take part in an event at the beautifully renovated Embassy Theater.

Pro tip: Stay at The Bradley Hotel, conveniently located near the public arts, the courthouse and the Embassy Theater.

One of the Tiffany windows in the Reid Center in Richmond, Indiana
Tiffany Stained Glass Windows in the Reid Center
(Photo Credit: Cindy Ladage)

6. Richmond

The Opalescent Glass Factory has repaired Tiffany Glass over the years. The Reid Center (formerly Reid Memorial Presbyterian Church) has more Tiffany glass than I’ve ever seen. Every window in the former church is Tiffany! Today, Reid Center is a performing arts venue and community center. It is a National Historic Landmark.

The Wayne County Historical Museum has everything from cars to an Egyptian mummy. Julia Ga founded the museum. It is her family that founded the Gaar Scott steam engines and threshers.

The Model T Museum is a must-see when in Richmond. My favorite item was the 1922 homemade snowmobile that delivered the mail 60 miles each day.

Pro tip: Stay at the eco-friendly Seldom Scene Meadow B&B, which runs on solar electric and passive solar hot water. I was hosted in this bed and breakfast with a beautiful view.

7. Cambridge City

Pamela Bliss has a mural of President Lincoln’s funeral train that stopped in Cambridge City. High Hat Antique Mall was also a nice stop in this city full of antiques.

Cambridge City is located on the National Road and is named after the city of Cambridge, England. The town is home to several antique shops and expanded due to the location of the Whitewater Canal.

The city is known for the Overbeck Art pottery, which was made from 1911 to 1955.

These are some of the sights to see along the gas boom trail and beyond, which winds its way through northern Indiana.

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