Rural Missouri - May 2013 - (Page 8)

Chronicle of the Corncob Pipe photo illustration by Kyle Spradley Missouri Meerschaum Co. remains the nation’s first and only producer of the famous pipes The Missouri Pride corncob pipe, with a totally natural corncob bowl, is one of nearly 30 styles of pipes Missouri Meerscaum Co. makes at its factory in Washington. Today, the Missouri The word meerschaum comes from a German Meerschaum factory is word meaning “sea foam.” At the time, some of the owned by a small group most pristine smoking pipes were made of Turkish of investors and has clay called meerschaum. Henry believed his pipes he corncob pipe is an icon in American culTo watch a video about nearly 40 employees mimicked the look of a meerschaum pipe thanks to ture. From Mark Twain’s tales of Huckleberthe process of making a who handle everything his patented process of adding a layer of plaster of ry Finn and Tom Sawyer sneaking away to corncob pipe, click this butfrom growing the corn Paris to the outside of the cob. smoke their pipes along the river to famous ton inside our digital and harvesting the cobs “It was kind of an early form of marketing to proAmericans such as World War II hero Gen. Douglas edition, online at to assembling the pipes mote his products,” adds Phil, a Three Rivers Electric MacArthur and celebrated painter Norman Rockwell, www.ruralmissouri.coop. and shipping them to corncob pipes have been a part of Cooperative member. pipe enthusiasts. Americana. Within a decade, five more corncob pipe fac“It all begins with a seed,” Phil says. “Across the tories opened in Washington, and several others “Very few things are as authentiriver from our factory, we have a 150-acre field where cally American as a corncob pipe,” popped up in surrounding Franklin County. Washington But the Missouri Meerschaum pipes always we grow our corn for the type of cobs we need.” says Phil Morgan, general manager of • Most farmers today prefer to grow species of corn Missouri Meerschaum Co. “But as much were regarded as the best and made Henry with a smaller cob and larger grain, but Missouri a wealthy man. as it is a part of our country, Missouri is Meerschaum prefers a fatter cob from a variety the In 1878, Henry’s son, Anton, joined where the corncob pipe became famous.” company developed. his father’s operation and helped For nearly 150 years, Missouri Meer“Our corncob has a thicker pith and bigger expand the company’s production facilischaum has been producing corncob woody ring,” explains the general manager. “This ties. Steam engines were installed to drive pipes at its factory in Washington. gives us more to work with to make the pipes.” the lathes and improve production as the Tibbe Several other pipe companies have come and Each fall, corn pickers harvest the corn and bring pipes began shipping across the nation. gone, but Missouri Meerschaum stands as the origiit to a nearby shelling facility. The cobs are starting More than a decade later, Anton looked to a new nal and only remaining commercial producer of to age and harden already. technology — electricity — to upgrade the factory. corncob pipes in the country. The company’s lonIn 1893, he supervised gevity has earned Washington distinction as the the construction of Wash“Corncob Pipe Capital of the World.” Each year, ington’s first electric power Missouri Meerschaum grows its own corn to proplant, which to this day duce more than 30 different styles of pipes and ship bears the Tibbe name. 700,000 pipes worldwide. The new plant brought Ask any pipe smoker about a Missouri Meerelectricity to the town and schaum, and you’ll likely learn not only of their powered not only Washsuperior value but also the great experience from a ington’s streetlights but cool-smoking, sweet-tasting pipe. also the Tibbe factory. “We take pride in making a pipe that is affordAt the turn of the cenable for everyone,” Phil says. “Most of our pipes cost tury, the Tibbe family sold around $10, and we basically do things the same way its company to the Otto as they were produced more than a century ago.” family. The name was offiMissouri Meerschaum got its start in the late cially changed to the Mis1800s with Henry Tibbe, a Dutch immigrant, who souri Meerschaum Co. was a wood turner in Washington. Legend has it “The Otto family ran that one day, a farmer who had been making cornthe plant for more than 75 cob pipes in the area came to Henry and asked if years, and they witnessed there was a way to turn the cobs on his lathes. Henthe heyday of pipe smokry found a way to perfect cob turning and started ing during the 1940s and selling them at his shop. 1950s,” Phil says. “At one Before long, word spread about the pipes, and time, the company made Henry ceased wood turning and started the H. Tibbe 25 million pipes in a year & Son Co. in 1869 as the first commercial corncob This photo from 1887 shows the Missouri Meerschaum Co. factory along Front and had more than a hunpipe factory in the world. His pipes were made Street in downtown Washington. The original structure still stands, although it’s dred employees.” under the Missouri Meerschaum name. been expanded during more than a century of producing corncob pipes. 8 WWW.RURALMISSOURI.COOP photo courtesy of Missouri Meerschaum Co. T by Kyle Spradley kspradley@ruralmissouri.coop http://www.ruralmissouri.coop http://WWW.RURALMISSOURI.COOP

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - May 2013

Rural Missouri - May 2013
Table of Contents
Comments
Columns
Chronicle of the corncob pipe
Missouri Snapshots contest
The family that drills together
Out of the Way Eats
Where bluegrass grows
Outdoors
Hearth and Home
Veggies and vision
Vertical gardening
Around Missouri
Marketplace
Neighbors
Just4Kids

Rural Missouri - May 2013

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