It is the furnace where they melt the ingredients for Kokomo Opalescent Glass. We are incredibly lucky, here in the City of Firsts to have the oldest remaining factory in the US who still makes old fashioned Stained Glass sheet glass. They have been making art glass on this site since 1888. The glass comes in a multitude of colors/color mixes and textures that are "printed" into the glass when it is rolled into a sheet.
This glass, that starts its life as what looks like a pile of sand, and gets carried by running men in giant metal ladles to go into the rollers, has ended up in many cathedrals around the world.
The results of combining up to 5 colors of glass at a time and a multitude of textures is a series of rooms of gorgeous sheet glass- each one slightly unique in all the world.
In addition to being shipped globally to repair old stained glass ( a series of batches went out to Japan this summer to assist with repair stained glass in cathedrals damaged in their recent catastrophes), this glass also ends up in new art, like that made locally by Little Town Glass and OgreWorkshop. Look Carefully at glass in the top cog- what do you see that was created by the mixing of the glass?
The KOG factory does tours all week. The day we were there, there were stained glass lovers from three different states and some local folks as well. It made a great Geek Family Outing for three generations of our family that day. You can see more pictures, including shots of the glass blowing section of the factory, in this album: