The story of the Coca-Cola Bottling Company in Norton, VA actually begins in Bristol, VA. The Dixie Bottling Company is purchased by a Col. (Sewell) Howard of Rockwood, Tenn. September 30th, 1906 the Bristol Herald Courier reported that he was building a new building across the street from the older location and moving the older equipment to Norton, VA (1) to set up as the Norton Coca-Cola Bottling Works Inc. which was incorporated on February 7, 1907.(3) Jack Tarwater, who was married to Sewell Howard's daughter, is listed as president, J. F. Tarwater of Rockwood, TN as Vice President, with Jerry Haggard listed as Secretary Treasurer.(5) They also held these same positions in Dixie Bottling Works of Bristol, VA.(4) The first building was located near the corner of Virginia Avenue and Seventh street, due to popular legend I assumed that this might be the location of T. M. Pepper's Bottling Company; however, after seeing a picture of the original building as compared to the building on eighth street, this is the location of the first Norton Coca-Cola Bottling Works. Amazingly enough this building still stands, has been remodeled / re-skinned and is being used by a business. When the most you see of a bottler's location is a parking lot, it excites you to realize the building still stands.

There is some mystery surrounding when exactly the company passed from Jack Tarwater to Ferdinand Bert Kline who according to a letter in the possession of one of his relatives wrote to Benjamin Franklin Thomas and Joseph Brown Whitehead about taking over the franchise for bottling Coca-Cola, and received permission to do so on December 2, 1910.(2) Yet I find that Jack Tarwater revived his Norton Coca-Cola Bottling Works Incorporation status on May 23rd, 1913, after letting it lapse after a period of two years.(3) It turns out that the corporation hadn't paid the annual registration fees for 1910 and 1911,(5) F. B. Kline being a stock holder in the company was obviously toying with the idea of taking over the franchise, thus the letter to Coca-Cola's main office, since it appears that the Tarwaters were letting the corporation lapse. The odd thing is that F. B. Kline along with fellow stock holders, C. A. Broadwater, and L. E. Beisel decided to revive the charter with the same officers as the first one,(5) thus you still have Jack Tarwater attached as president of the company. It would be an idea to note that having sold out his interests in Dixie Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Bristol, VA to Carl Jones by 1910, that Jack Tarwater may very well have moved back to Rockwood, TN.

At some point Ferdinand B. Kline has taken over the company, he incorporated the Kline Corporation on March 20, 1917.(3) The officers for the corporation were F. B. Kline as President / Treasurer, S. E. Beisel as Vice President, and C. A. Broadwater as Secretary.(8) According to the 1923 Sanborn maps he has built a new brick building that still stands on the corner of Sixth and Seventh streets. He purchased the land the second location sits on August 8, 1913 and may have built the new plant before incorporating in 1917.(5) The corporation changed their name to The Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Norton Inc. on April 27, 1942 at the request of the Coca-Cola parent company.(8) The officers noted at this point are F. B. Kline as President, Mrs. F. B. Kline as Vice President, and George F. Scott as Secretary Treasurer.(8) In the late 1940's it appears that Kline expanded his company into St. Paul, VA, I'm not sure when he took over the St. Paul Bottling Company located there, and opened a new branch plant in Vansant, VA in 1949. The brand most associated with this group of bottlers, is their own Lonesome Pine Beverages line which they claim was created in 1941.

F. B. Kline died on January 21, 1970, and he willed 55 shares of the Norton Coca-Cola Bottling Company to William P. Armistead, his son, 50 shares to William C. Kline, and 105 shares to George F. Scott.(6) He also distributed 60 shares of the Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Vansant to Armistead, 40 to Kline, and 85 shares to something called the Grayford Corp.(6) It was after this that Armistead and William Kline formed the Lonesome Pine Coca-Cola Bottling Company, and this is also most likely when they built their new building outside of town. Ive been told by a former employee of the Vansant plant that in 1972 the order was given to her husband to dismantle the bottling apparatus in Vansant, and it became a distribution center. Im guessing in favor of concentrating the bottling to the Norton plant.

W. P. Armistead eventually sold his shares of the company to Coca-Cola Consolidated of Charlotte, NC.(2) He signed a "non-compete" agreement with Coca-Cola Consolidated at that time.(2) The Lonesome Pine Beverages trademark was still a registered trademark as late as 1994,(7) and a new specimen was included with this correspondence, someone was still trying to produce this brand, so maybe there is some truth in Burke Greear's claim that the brand was being distributed in the Christiansburg, VA area.(2)

The original Coca-Cola plant in Norton, VA

The location of the original Coca-Cola Bottler of Norton as it stands today.

The second location for the Coca-Cola Bottling Company.

Lonesome Pine Coca Cola Bottling Company

"straight side" Coca-Cola bottle dated 1912

"straight side" bottle from the "Coca-Cola Bottling Works of Norton, VA" dated 1914. This bottle most likely never held Coca-Cola because the parent company directed that all bottles containing Coca-Cola have the name in script. This was most likely a bottle used for flavored soda waters, or other non-Coca-Cola brands that the company bottled.

6oz "straight side" amber Coca-Cola dated 1916

Ad from the Kline Corporation from March 19, 1924

A "Pat'd November 15, 1915" Coca Cola Bottle

Although it's just a shard it is evidence that at some point Norton would use the "six star" Coca-Cola Soda Water bottle. This shard is dated 1924, and was found near Bristol, VA.

1930s ad from the Kline Corporation indicating that they once distributed Budweiser Beer.

From the collection of Frank Anderson, photo by Joseph Lee
6oz six star soda water bottle similar to the one above; however, this one has a rounded body dated 1929

Bottom of the bottle

6 1/2oz Natural Set Up Paper Label from the Kline Corporation

"Pat. D-105529" Coca Cola Bottle dated 1942

1942 ad for the Kline Company

From the collection of Tommy Fouch, photo by Joseph Lee
7oz Sparkling Life Bottle dated 1946

From the collection of Frank Anderson, photo by Joseph Lee
Superior Ginger Ale Paper Label from the Kline Corporation

From the collection of Frank Anderson, photo by Joseph Lee
11oz Lonesome Pine Beverages bottle dated 1948

10oz Coca Cola Bottle 1963

10oz Lonesome Pine Beverages bottle dated 1973

A six pack of Lonesome Pine bottles in their carton

10oz Lonesome Pine Beverages Fruit Punch foam label bottle.

10oz Lonesome Pine Beverages Orange foam label bottle.

Lonesome Pine Beverages carrier which would have carried the above bottles

Lonesome Pine Beverages wax sample cup

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(2) Burke Greear a relative of Ferdinand B. Kline

(3) "Annual Report of the Secretary of the Commonwealth to the Governor and General Assembly of Virginia" published 1913 and 1918

(4) "Fourth Annual Report of the State Corporation Commission of Virginia" published 1907

(5) "The Heritage of Wise County and The City of Norton 1856-2001 Vol. 2" by The Wise County Historical Society

(6) The Kingsport Times January 29, 1970

(7) the United States Patent and Trademark Office website

(8) Wise County Circuit Court Records