10 Pittsburgh Ave.
"Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass." ~ Anton Chekhov
Ariel-Foundation Park is located in Mount Vernon, Ohio. The Park consists of 250-acres. It sits on the former sites of Pittsburgh Plate Glass and Goodwin Sand and Gravel. The main attraction of the park is the Rastin Observation Tower.
The Rastin Observation Tower
The Rastin Observation Tower is a unique tower that gives visitors an exceptional view of the surrounding park and Mount Vernon. It is the tallest structure in Knox County.
The tower was made from an old industrial smokestack. The smokestack was built in 1951 and was in use until the closing of the Pittsburg Plate Glass. It measures 280 feet high. It was named after the Executive Vice President of the Ariel Corporation, Tom Rastin.
A large steel, spiral staircase was constructed around the tower. There are 224 steps and an observation platform at 140 feet. The steps do not go all the way to the top of the smokestack.
The Signs on the Smokestack
The historic 1951 PPG Smokestack
Rastin Observation Tower
The historic chimney is the highest structure in Knox County and has been a landmark for residents and air traffic since completion. The PPG plant shuttered in 1976 and the chimney ended its useful life and has now been repurposed for the enjoyment of area residents.
Architectural Services gift of SHREMSHOCK ARCHITECTS
Fabrication by CUSTOM CUTTERS
Erection by UNITED AGGREGATES
The historic 1951 PPG Smokestack
Rastin Observation Tower
This chimney served PPG from 1951 to its closing in 1976 and was constructed of reinforced concrete by the slip form method. To preserve it as part of The Ruins it was determined to repurpose it as an Observation Tower. The Tower is 280 feet high and the observation deck is at 140 feet and there are 224 steps to the top. Enjoy the view!
Design concept by
Stair & Observation Deck gift of
The Layout of Ariel-Foundation Park
The Park is broken into several sections. There is the Ruins, the Tree of Life Labyrinth, The Terraces, The Woods, and The Lakes. There is also a huge 17,000 square foot event center.
The Ruins is the most interesting part of the park for those interested in history. This part of the park is located on the grounds of the old Pittsburg Plate Glass factory. There are several remains of the facility scattered around the park.
Visitors at Ariel-Foundation Park can walk among the partial remains of the massive glass-making facility that once stood there.
There are remains of the giant smokestack along with an old staircase tower, elevator towers, among other structures. The ruins are meant to be a homage to all the men and women who worked at PPG.
There is little to no shade in the area of the ruins. If you visit the park on a hot day, make sure you dress accordingly and have plenty of water to drink. If you visit in the winter, there will not be much to block the wind.
It is no coincidence Ariel-Foundation Park Project Director Ted Schnormeier chose to strategically preserve elements of the 1,000,000 square-foot PPG glassworks. His 50+ years in the industry impressed upon him the importance of manufacturing in the economic life of a community like Mount Vernon, as well as the need to celebrate our unique industrial heritage.
Ridge Truss Sculpture
The ridge trusses that once supported the roof of the historic Coxey Building have been repurposed as sculpture in The Ruins of Ariel-Foundation Park. Besides adding aesthetic interest the sculptures celebrate the site’s industrial history.
BOB STOVICEK, Sculptor
The Clock House
One of the several points of entry to the Ariel-Foundation Park, the Clock House is so named for its historic role as the place in which PPG employees “clocked in” and “clocked out” at the beginning and end of each work day. A small museum includes donated artifacts of the site’s rich industrial heritage.
Coxey Building Ruins
The structural steel for the Coxey Building was salvaged from one of the principal exhibits at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exhibition in Chicago. It was transported to this site on 40 circus railroad cars. Jacob S. Coxey’s unsuccessful attempts to produce steel in this building were supplanted by glass-making operations that flourished for nearly 80 years.
Gift of Brenneman Lumber Company
Wooden crates for worldwide transport of sheet glass were fabricated in this unique structure built in 1945. Natural light and ventilation were provided by an energy efficient V-shaped roof. The Carpenter shop has been preserved as a public and private event space.
Gift of COMMUNITY FOUNDATION
OF MOUNT VERNON & KNOX COUNTY
The Barone Patio provides additional opportunities to enjoy the Community Foundation Pavilion. Its hyperbolic shade structures and the granite table tops and benches impart a unique and lasting character to the patio’s design.
Gift of Sam & Paula Barone
Sentinels of Steel
Ridge trusses salvaged in 1893 from the World’s Columbian Exhibition, and in 2013 from the Coxey Building, stand guard in a canyon formed by the Terraces.
Gift of Otho Eyster, Carole Garner, Jim & Kim Giles, Doug & Julie Leonard, Dick & Susan Murray, Joe & Sally Nelson, David & Sue Railsback, Vickie & Keith Sant, Bruce & Kathy White
Steel Sculpture #7
Climb to the summit of the park’s highest terrace to experience a dramatic view of the reflecting pools, Ruins, Terraces, and Sculptures crafted of steel salvaged from the historic PPG glassworks.
Bob Stovicek, Sculptor
Gift of UNITED AGGREGATED ~ CTS ~ Ellis Brothers
The Labyrinth is a delightful element of Ariel-Foundation Park. The Labyrinth has a small pond, 1000-foot winding pathway, benches and some small trees. You can get to the labyrinth from The Woods or the Schnormeier Events Center.
Since the design of the labyrinth and the actual name of the Labyrinth are registered trademarks, we are unable to share those with you.
Just as with The Ruins, there is very little shade.
The River of Glass
River of Glass
The continuous sheets of glass drawn from the tanks of molten glass were referred to as the "Ribbon of Glass". The Vertical draw process was invented in this PPG plant, and was known as the PennVernon process. This sculpture is a "play" on that reference - hence the "River of Glass".
Created by Ted Schnormeier
Executed by Bob Stovicek
Gift of Steve & Jeanne Mullendore
The Terraces add visual appeal to the Ariel Foundation Park. These terraces are unique features that add vertical dimension. The landscaping throughout the Ruins area of the park and the terraces was well kept. There are paths that lead through The Ruins and The Terraces and around some small ponds.
Behind the Schnormeier Events Center, you can find the River of Glass.
The stunning landforms that surround visitors to Ariel-Foundation Park may be reminiscent of an ancient burial mound-building tradition of Central Ohio – that of the Moundbuilders, Adena and Hopewell Cultures. However, the purpose of our “Terraced Mounds” is simply to provide sweeping vistas and to invite visitors to enjoy an ascent to their summits.
Contemporary inspiration for the Terraces in Ariel-Foundation Park comes from the work of American Landscape Architect Charles Jencks. The work of Mr. Jencks are located principally in the British Isles and are monumental in scale up to 1,200 feet wide and reaching heights of 100 feet with miles of walkways.
Between the wide-open area of The Ruins and The Lakes is The Woods. This area of Ariel Foundation Park provides a lot of shade.
Located along the south side of The Lakes, The Woods offer a cool and calming environment. There is a 1.19 mile trails that is partially paved and partially natural that circles the main pond.
The Woods was a no-man’s land of tangled trees, brush and debris when it was acquired in 2013. A major clean up effort paved the way for a new access road through the park.
MARK & DENISE RAMSER FAMILY
There are three large lakes located at Ariel Foundation Park. These lakes were once part of the quarries excavated by Goodwin Sand and Gravel.
The lakes and surrounding areas were beautiful. There are seven pavilions, swings, picnic tables and boat ramps.
Boating and fishing are permitted on the Central, West and East lakes. To fish, you must have a valid Ohio fishing license. You are asked to log your fishing information online so the park can keep track of what is caught and how they should stock the lakes. If you are interested in boating, the boat must be hand launched. There are no gasoline engines or sailboats allowed.
The water was very clear and you could see the large fishing swimming around.
There is no swimming permitted in any of the lakes or ponds.
Thank you from Paddle for Heroes & Ariel-Foundation Park. This launch was made possible by the support of our community.
United States Marine Corp Veteran “Semper Fi”
Knox County Foundation
United States Air Force Veteran
Stein Brewing Company
Holmes Tire LLC
QFM96 Red, White & Q Fund
Gantt Homes, Inc
The Hive Adult Day Service
First Knox National Bank
Conway’s Eastside Pharmacy
In Memory of Robert C. (Bob) Totman
“who loved to fish and kayak”
Red Arched Bridge
This centerpiece of the Central Lake spans the gap between Mavis Island via a limestone-lined isthmus. The arched bridge delights pedestrians of all ages and offers a unique vantage point of Ariel-Foundation Park.
IAN & CHARLOTTE WATSON
The vision and leadership of Mount Vernon Mayor Richard K. Mavis are celebrated in the dedication of this island. The Mayor’s quest to acquire and develop the 250 acres of Ariel-Foundation Park spanned 15 years and inspired hundreds of volunteers.
Gift of FOUNDATION PARK CONSERVANCY
Additional Areas of Ariel-Foundation Park
There were additional areas of the park we did not have time to explore. These include The Meadows, Wildflower Garden/Arboretum, and the CA&C Depot.
The Meadows is a large open area located to the West of the Ruins. It is the area of the Park that can be used for flying kites and playing frisbee.
The Wildflower Garden/Arboretum is located on the western side of Ariel-Foundation Park. It is comprised of 16 acres. The arboretum includes 50 native tree species that can be found throughout Ohio.
CA&C stands for Cleveland, Akron, & Columbus. is located on South Main Street and can also be accessed from the trail that runs around the East Lake.
Due to the vast difference in landscapes, the birding differed greatly between The Lakes area and The Ruins.
During our visit we spotted:
We really enjoyed the Ariel Foundation Park other than the lack of shade available in The Ruins and The Terrace areas. This is a massive park that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. From the historical aspect to the birding, boating and fishing, you could easily make a day of your visit. Just make sure you bring your own food and water.
The Rastin Observation tower was an interesting feature, and it got the legs burning.
There was no trash laying around at all. However, there was a massive amount of Canada Geese, so if you were walking next to the 3 main ponds, you had to watch where you stepped.
What You Can Expect at Ariel-Foundation Park
Please note that trail rules and regulations can change at any time. The following information was in effect for Ariel-Foundation Park in Mount Vernon as of June 2021.
There are 2 bathrooms in Ariel-Foundation Park. One is located near the event center. The other one is located between the central pond and the east pond. The one near the ponds was dingy and dirty. And the locks on the doors were broke.