The PPG Glass Company constructed its massive Works #11 plant in Mount Vernon, Ohio near the shores of the Kokosing River in 1907. The plant churned out glass products of all manner for about 40 years. During the 1970s, it permanently closed, leaving the huge brick behemoth to slowly molder away and crumble. Parts of the structure were used as storage over the years but finally, the city petitioned to have it demolished.
However, before its removal, a plan was put forth to construct a large city park around a few of the ruins. Between 2012 and its opening in 2015, the Ariel Corporation and the Community Foundation of Mount Vernon and Knox County designed and paid for the creation of the park.
There are a variety of things around the park to see and do, all based around parts of the old factory. Modern art was created out of the rubble and glass. A spiral staircase winds up the towering factory smokestack to a platform that provides an amazing view of the park and surrounding city. Visitors can still see the old elevator shafts standing as lone sentinels to a time long gone.
Part of the old factory has been turned into an event center, where community events, concerts, and other happenings occur during the summer months. A concrete walkway forms a labyrinth that includes small flecks of glass embedded into the cement that creates a glittering effect.
A “River of Glass” made of giant blue glass chunks glistens in the sun at the park. Next to the ruins are lakes and parklands created out of the old quarries. The result is a magnificent place to explore, hike, and spend the afternoon under the warm Ohio summer sun.
Know Before You Go
Ariel-Foundation Park is officially open between April 1st through November 15th. Some areas of the park are accessible to pedestrians year-round. Daily hours of operation are 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. There are no admissions or parking fees. The Rastin Observation Tower, park museum, picnic pavilion, trails and other park features are free and open to the public. The Rastin Observation Tower is open during winter months, as long as the weather permits.