Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Watkins Mill

A recent field trip consisted of a visit to Watkins Mill the last standing woolen mill from the 19th century. In it's heyday the mill produced tons of fabric and employed around 40 to 50 people at a time. It was all run by steam engine which was wood fired. An elaborate system of pulleys, belts, and rods throughout the mill powered a bunch of different equipment designed to transform wool from just off the sheep to something that could be used for fabric.

The mill was 4 stories tall and employed men, women, and boys. During that day, depending on the role, a person could make a very good wage as compared with traditional agriculture jobs. The pay rate was anywhere from 50 cents to $3 per day depending on the role with the exception being those involved in weaving who were paid 3 to 9 cents per yard. The skill level also corresponded to some degree with social class as a direct result of higher pay.

It looked to have been a very dangerous place to work and would be an OSHA nightmare today. People regularly lost fingers or were otherwise injured by the equipment. You could allegedly hear the mill from 2 miles away. On the day that I went it was around 80 degrees and I was sweating inside while not doing any strenuous activity so I imagine it would have been very hot, noisy, a tough work back in the day.



Wood powered engine
Checkers in the store

Barn nearby

Going home after a hard day's work
Watkins Mill
Some of the local workers

1 comment:

Lauren said...

Amazing!! Looks like a cool place to visit. I love your effects on the photos of the re-enactors. :)

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