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Last windshield from East Deer glass plant lands in museum

November 10, 2018

Who wouldn’t want the last piece of glass made at the country’s oldest glass factory?

After 135 years, the Pittsburgh Glass Works Creighton plant in East Deer, formerly Pittsburgh Plate Glass, closed in August. About 160 workers represented by the United Steel Workers lost their jobs.

Workers from the Creighton plant bestowed their last car windshield to the Allegheny-Kiski Valley Heritage Museum in Tarentum recently.

The last piece of glass was made on the plant’s last day of production, Aug. 17, at 6:30 p.m. to be exact. One of the plant workers, Pam Deiseroth, 62, of New Kensington, remembers the production run quite well.

It was a small windshield job for General Motors’ Equinox and Acadia SUVs.

“It was hard, I knew it was the end,” said Deiseroth, who tears up when thinking about her last day at work.

Giving the last piece of glass to the museum is bittersweet, she said. Deiseroth said she will miss the people she worked with, not so much the hours.

Although the plant did not make glass from scratch like the old days, they fabricated, shaped and cut windshields, a process deceptively more complex than is apparent in the seamless and clear final product. Glass Works actually fabricated the windshields with three layers, including a sheet of clear vinyl to make the glass shatterproof.

Deiseroth and her husband, Jeff, who also worked at the glass plant, have fond memories of watching the “ball drop” test on windshields to gauge the strength of the glass.

They and other workers thought the last windshield was monumental and should be preserved along with the factory’s other artifacts at the Allegheny-Kiski Valley Heritage Museum.

The museum can always use more glass, which is a joke given that some inside walls of the museum, the former American Legion, are paneled in blue reflective cobalt glass made by PPG.

In fact, PPG glass is inescapable at every turn in the museum. Even the tile in entrance way is special PPG architectural glass tile, Art Deco style.

It’s unclear where the windshield will permanently reside within the museum, but for now, it’s near the 8-foot-tall, 600-pound replica of One PPG Place, the company’s headquarters in Pittsburgh.

“We’ll be able to tell the whole story of the company from the beginning to its final product,” said Jim Thomas, board president of the museum.

The museum’s collections include PPG newsletters, blueprints of company houses, employee yearbooks, and yet more glass.

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