Dating blue ridge pottery
The railroad, which had established machine shops in Erwin, decided that the town was situated in a uniquely beautiful natural setting and deserved more than random residential and commercial development.
In 1916, Grosvenor Atterbury, a New York City architect, was engaged by the railroad’s land holding affiliate, Holston Corporation, to draw up a planned community.
According to surviving artisans, the starting wage for painters was 13 1/2 cents an hour in 1941.
This helped as a point of reference and to provide some sense of consistency in production.
According to Earl Peterson, a former employee, it was not unusual to have upwards of one thousand of these small orders on hand an any point in time.
By the time World War II broke out, Southern Potteries ranked as one of the largest producers of china in the United States.
Jack Conley, a retired railroader still residing in Erwin, recalls that raw materials - coal to fire the kilns, feldspar for making pottery - were transported by a trunk rail line to the pottery.
Finished products were then hauled by train to major rail distribution centers for transport across the country.