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Stories: Bottles

One of the unexpected surprises of renovating a building that’s over 100 years old is unearthing a bit of history. One of the interesting finds we encountered while digging the expansion foundation for Fire Station No. 6 were dozens of old bottles, several likely dating back to the first two decades of the Fire Station, 1900–1920.

Round Bottom Bottles

We were quite surprised to find four fully intact round bottom bottles. The aquamarine or green bottles are quite heavy and cannot stand up like normal soda bottles because of their round bottoms. Online investigation found that this type of bottle had been in use from the late 19th century through the 1930s.

Often imported from the United Kingdom, the most common bottles contained ginger ale. Corks were the most popular closure, secured with a wire bale. Because the corks would dry out and shrink, allowing the carbonation to escape or the liquid to spoil or sour, the bottles were generally shipped upside down to keep the corks wet. The bottles were placed in a wire or wicker stand when uncorked to drink.

To learn more about Round Bottom Bottles click here.

Hood’s Sarsa Parilla

A rectangular, aqua-colored bottle with clear lettering identifying it as Hood’s Sarsa Parilla was also found. Sarsaparilla is the primary ingredient in old-fashioned style root beer. Developed by C.I. Hood along with a family of other related medicinal drinks, Hood’s Sarsa Parilla was popular throughout America and Europe.

At one time, Americans thought Sarsaparilla to have many blood purifying medicinal properties, and it was a popular European treatment for syphilis. Online discovery describes a few of the key ingredients included in the popular tonic:

  • SARSAPARILLA ROOT—of great service for skin disorders, rheumatism, dropsy and diseases of a scrofulous origin.
  • STILLINGIA—eradicates pimples, boils, abscesses, ulcers, syphilis and chronic bronchitis.
  • ALCOHOL (18%)—If the other ingredients didn’t cure you, at least you wouldn’t feel any pain.

Knowing the “rough and ready” nature of the men from Fire Station No. 6, ginger ale seems a bit tame, so perhaps the liquids were consumed as treatment tonics.

For more information click here.

Red Rock Cola

Photo courtesy of CokeGirl

Just recently we found an unusual bottle with the embossed lettering “Red Rock Cola” and “Houston Texas” just below the neck of the bottle. Additional embossed lettering that reads, “Registered. This bottle is not to be sold,” can be found at the base of the bottle. Online research suggests this bottle was created between 1900 and 1910 and probably contained ginger ale.

The Red Rock Company was founded in 1885 in Atlanta, Georgia. Red Rock Cola was trademarked in the late 1890s, and the trademark was officially filed with the U.S. Patent Office in 1903, the same year Fire Station No. 6 was built. Red Rock Cola was quite popular through the 1940s but finally died out sometime in the 1950s.

Red Rock Cola was the only product that Babe Ruth personally endorsed. A poster of Babe Ruth and Red Rock Cola was first published in 1939.

Metal Sign Wall Art Red Rock Cola - Babe Ruth | Image from TheManlyMan's Etsy listing

To find out more click here.

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About the Author

Since 1998, Axiom has thrived as a hybrid advertising agency/marketing communications firm that fuses marketing strategy with compelling creative to solve business problems and drive opportunities for clients worldwide. Based in Houston, Axiom provides corporate and product branding, advertising and media planning, integrated screen and print programs, and investor relations materials with an emphasis on creative solutions for energy-focused companies.

Comments (3)

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  1. David Goldrup says:

    I worked at the Red Rock Cola bottling plant in Freeport, Maine 65 years ago. They shut down operations aometime in the 50s. I have been searching for a Red Rock Freeport bottle for some time.

    • Tom Hair says:


      My apologies for not seeing your message before now. Do you have any pictures from your time spent at Red Rock in Freeport? How popular was the drink while you worked there. Would like to know more.


      • David Goldrup says:

        No apologies necessary. It’s taken me four years to see your reply to my posting. I’m sorry to say I have no pictures, only memories.

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