The natural resources of southern New Jersey, an abundance of silica sand, forests for fuel and navigable waterways provided ideal conditions for glassmaking. Beginning with the Wistarburgh Glass Works in 1739, more than two hundred glass factories were established in South Jersey. Today, only thirteen glass companies that melt their own glass remain in operation.
Bottles and window glass were the major products of New Jersey factories. Forty-seven firms produced cut glass and only one company, the Durand Art Glass division of the Vineland Flint Glass Works, marketed a decorative art glass.
At first, small glass factories were built along the Mullica, Egg Harbor, Tuckahoe, Maurice, Cohansey and Salem Rivers. In 1854, the first railroad in South Jersey was completed from Camden to Atlantic City. Once the railroads were established, cities along the rails, such as Glassboro, Bridgeton, Millville, Salem and Vineland, became major glassmaking centers.