Thursday, December 4, 2008

December 2, 1934

I am a few days late in marking the seventy fourth anniversary of the casting of the 200-inch mirror, but I finally have a moment to do so.

Back in March, on the anniversary of the casting of the first 200-inch disc, I described some of the process of making the mirror. The first casting was unsuccessful and the team at Corning Glass Works, led by Dr. George McCauley, got to work in re-engineering the mirror's honeycombed underside. Finally, nearly nine months later they were ready to try again.

The date of the pouring of the mirror, December 2, 1934, also happens to have been my mother's 5th birthday. So here's a happy belated birthday to both the 200-inch mirror and my mom.

Lots of people worked in a variety of capacities on the task of casting the mirror. Tinsmiths, carpenters and more. Those that handled the molten glass, the ladlers, faced intense working conditions. Their task was to scoop out 750 pounds of molten glass and deliver it to the mold. The glass was hot enough to melt steel so part of the crew had to hose down the outside of the ladle. It was a monumental job. These were the men who accomplished the task:

Vincent Capo, Harry Contento, Frank Crisci, Joe Miller, Nick Miller, Frank Oriella, Joe Ruocco, George Scott, Oran Smith, Pasquale Yorio, Rosario Yorio. This was back in the heart of the Great Depression. The highest paid of the ladelers made just 48 cents an hour, earning them $3.84 for their day.

Corning's staff photographer, Ayres A. Stevens, captured many moments in the entire process of making the mirror. This photo is one of my favorites.

Later on, when I have more bandwidth (possibly Saturday), I'll post a short film clip of the team in action.


cyorio said...

I discovered this blog while researching my husband's family tree. His grandfather was Rosario Yorio and his great-uncles were Pasquale Yorio and Frank Crisci. He will be so interested in this article. As I look at the names of the men who worked on the lens, I see that many friends and neighbors of my husband's family are there. In those days, almost everyone in Corning worked for Corning Glass and were happy for the opportunity despite what seems like very low wages. Thanks for an interesting article.

Scott Kardel said...


If you see my reply to your comment, please send me an email (wsk "at" I have some documents that you and your husband might very much enjoy seeing.

- Scott