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Pamplin Pipe Factory

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c. 1930. Pamplin Rd. at T-1103
  • (Photograph by Mark Mones)
  • (Virginia Department of Historic Resources)
  • (Photograph by Mark Mones)
  • (Photograph by Mark Mones)

Before it closed in 1952, this was the largest clay pipe factory in America, with production reaching one million pipes per month in the 1930s. Clay pipes like those produced here were used by Native Americans. Archaeologists have yet to determine how far back clay pipes were manufactured but local lore has it that they date from the contact period between settlers and Indians. Behind the frame factory building sheathed with corrugated sheet metal are the yellow brick ruins of a c. 1920 round kiln. This was covered by a low dome and vented by a short tunnel leading to its now-reconstructed squared smokestack. A full-size door allowed access to the interior of the round kiln where the unfired clay pipes were stacked in fireclay boxes. Fires, laid in hearths against the interior brick walls, were stoked from the exterior through arched portals with removable iron covers. Like many of America's small towns, Pamplin's small commercial district is largely unoccupied and stands as testimony to the nation's shift to large discount retailers and, here, the closing of its pipe factory.

Writing Credits

Anne Carter Lee



Anne Carter Lee, "Pamplin Pipe Factory", [Pamplin, Virginia], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

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