October 7, 2011

An Industrial Revolution

Our last stop in Maine was Kennebunk and Kennebunkport.  The Kennebunks are charming New England towns with incredible architecture, and both were bustling today in anticipation of the holiday weekend.  Of course, the most famous resident of Kennebunkport is George Bush, and we made the obligatory drive by the Bush compound on our tour of Ocean Avenue.

The Wedding Cake House in Kennebunk

Greek Revival in Kennebunkport

How About A Carriage Ride?

The Coast Along Ocean Avenue

Stretches On the Rocks
Before we made our way to New Hampshire and Vermont, I wanted to visit Lowell National Historical Park in Lowell, Massachusetts, so we made a slight detour to the south.  Lowell has been on my radar since 1978, when it became a unit of the National Park Service, but I had never managed a visit.  I persuaded Tim that we should go, and we are both so glad that we did.

Lowell National Historical Park tells the story of the American Industrial Revolution through exhibits and canal and trolley tours at various buildings and sites throughout the city.  I had always known that Lowell was an important mill town, but I did not realize that Lowell was America’s first industrial city.

Tim, Trolley and Train

Sarah At the Trolley Stop
Lowell’s location at the falls of the Merrimack River was key to its industrial development as the waterpower was harnessed to run the machines of textile mills.  A system of canals was built to power even more mills, and by 1850 ten huge mill complexes employed more than 10,000 people.

The park interprets not only the rise and fall of the city’s textile mills, but also the human history of mill life as well.  Mill girls, who came from the farms of New England to work in the mills, lived in company-owned boardinghouses, and one of the houses has been reconstructed with rooms furnished in the style of the 1850s.  This building also tells the story of the immigrant mill workers, who gradually replaced the mill girls after the Civil War.

Boott Mills Boardinghouse
My favorite exhibit, however, was at the Boott Cotton Mills Museum, where we saw a 1910s weaving room with operating looms.  Cloth is still being woven today, and items produced here are offered for sale.  The Boott Cotton Mill is a fabulous brick building built in 1836.  I love mill buildings, and this is a great one.

Boott Mills

Wonderful Mill Architecture

Weave Room At Boott Mills

Operating Looms at Boott Mills

Cloth Is Still Being Produced
The National Park Service has partnered with the City of Lowell to preserve the city’s industrial heritage, and I was amazed to find out that approximately 80 percent of the square footage of the city’s mill buildings has been adaptively reused.  The new goal is 90 percent.  The loft spaces and condominiums created in these buildings must be amazing.

Ranger Lowell Has Joined Our Happy Family
Tim and His Laptop Kat

1 comment:

  1. Ranger Lowell has on a hat......

    See you Thursday!