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Friday, February 8, 2008

Lowell's Mills

This is the Boott Cotton Mill in Lowell, Massachusetts where thousands of workers, mostly women, worked from the early 1800s at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution to the mill closings of the mid-20th century.

Now the Boott Cotton Mill Museum, part of the Lowell National Historic Park, this building and its detailed exhibits of life for cotton textile workers, including a working weave room, illustrates the colossal hardship, and hopefulness, of the mill worker in an era of great change, great promise, and great exploitation.

The park contains other mills, museums, and tours of the canal system that fed the mills. It is a fascinating place to visit, and should be stop on anyone’s tour of New England. Famed English author Charles Dickens came in 1842 to Lowell for a tour of the mills, with which he was quite impressed.

New England is not just cozy Currier and Ives illustrations of village commons and seaport towns. It is muscular and not always pretty industry, red brick bastions that fueled the economy of America and of the world at one time, where New England products reached everywhere on the globe, and whose industrial prowess helped win a bitter Civil War, and brought new vitality to a Depression-worn economy at the onset of World War II, helping to win that war also.

Have a look at this National Parks website. And take a visit to Lowell.

Been there? Done that? Bought one of those souvenir loom shuttles in the gift shop? Let us know.

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