The Seven-Up Bottling Company of Southwest Virginia began operations on the Raven Highway in Richlands, VA on September 1, 1946.(1) Alex E. Anderson Jr., who is from Bristol, is listed as owner of the company, and Hubert Rogers is plant superintendant.(1) The bottling plant was located where the Burger King sits, between the drive in theater, and the road. The franchise area for this company consisted of four and a half counties including Tazewell, Dickenson, Buchannan, Russell, and Wise county as far west as Norton, VA.(1) They started out bottling Seven-Up, and Mission Orange, and by the mid-fifties would add Grapette to their cadre of drinks. They appear to have dropped Mission Orange by this time, and have started picking up brands franchised by the Grapette Company including Mr. Cola which was one of the earliest users of 16oz bottles, and Sunburst which was a flavor line from Grapette. They also appear to have distributed Budweiser beer, which wasnít unusual for bottlers of this time period.

Mr. Anderson is from Bristol, and I have found has a connection to the Seven Up Bottling Company of Bristol, Tennessee. In fact he is mentioned as an officer of that company when they reorganized in 1955. In 1945 the Seven-Up Bottling Company of Bristol, Tennessee started up a branch plant in Kingsport, Tennessee which lasted until somewhere around 1949. The Richlands plant is also a sister plant to the Bristol plant, but obviously had much better success than the Kingsport one. A. E. Anderson Jr. was elected to the Richlands Chamber of Commerce in March of 1948. Iím not sure exactly when the company ceased operations; however, the Sunburst bottle in my collection is dated 1964 so we do know it lasted at least that long.

This is the location of the bottling company. You can see the screen of the drive in theater in the background. Take notice of the fire hydrant in the very bottom of the picture, using Google maps street view I found this same hydrant in front of Burger King, and the mountain in the background matches.

First 7-Up ad from Richlands News Press 1946

For a long time I was operating on the speculation of a connection between the Richlands plant and the Seven Up Bottling Company of Bristol due to Mr. Anderson being from Bristol. Now I finally have proof that these two bottlers were indeed connected in the form of a Grapette bottle cap.

9oz Mission Beverages bottle dated 1947

A Mission Orange ad from Clinch Valley News 1948

7oz Seven Up bottle dated 1950

7-Up ad from Clinch Valley News 1948

9oz Mission Beverages bottle dated 1953.

7-Up ad from The Honaker Press July 6, 1950

7oz Seven Up bottle dated 1953

A 7-UP crate from Richlands, VA

7oz Grapette bottle dated 1956. A perfect example of how ordering bottles from different glass makers ended up making for interesting variations. This bottle has a straight slope shoulder and has "Grapette Bottling Company Richlands, VA" on the back acl, while the one below has a slight indented ring around the shoulder and has "Seven-Up Grapette Bottling Company Inc. Richlands, VA" on the back.

10 gallon Grapette barrel sent to Richlands, VA by the Grapette Company dated 1958

7oz Grapette bottle dated 1956.

Mission Beverages ad from Clinch Valley News June 25,1948

16oz "Mr" Cola bottle dated 1960

7oz 7-UP bottle dated 1961

It looks as though the Seven-Up Bottling Company of Richlands, VA was distributing Budweiser beer as this "Souvenir of Richlands, VA" Budweiser salt shaker will attest to. I have only seen that "Souvenir of blank" tampo sticker on Seven Up product bottles, and or associated with Seven-Up bottlers, which makes me sure that is what is going on here. Now if I can only find one of the Seven-Up salt shakers with the same tampo.

16oz "Mr" Cola bottle undated

10oz Sun Burst bottle dated 1964

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(1) Richlands News Press