Silk Mill Floor
Photograph - Digital Photography
One of the floors in the Lonaconing Silk Mill, machinery and stacks of bobbins.
The Lonaconing Silk Mill, also referred to as the Klotz Throwing Company, is the last intact silk mill in the United States. It is located in Lonaconing, Maryland within the National Lonaconing Historic District and the site is on the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places.
Lonaconing was located along the Cumberland and Pennsylvania Railroad’s mainline, and was an early iron, glass and coal producing community south of Frostburg along today’s MD 36. In the early 1900s, a local banker, Duncan Sloan, overheard in a casual conversation on a railroad passenger car that the Klotz Throwing Company was looking to construct a plant in the western Maryland region. A silk throwing mill twisted or wound raw silk into thread, where it was then sent to be woven into various textiles by silk manufacturers. The imported silk was first washed, dried and spun before being wound, or doubled, into skeins of thread.
In the early years of the mill, raw silk and Douppinni, an expensive silk that was used in the production of wedding gowns, were thrown at the mill. The throwing process involved the twisting and winding of silk into a yarn that was then used by knitters and weavers. Occasionally, the silk thread was broken due to the twisting and winding of the thread onto 4-inch bobbins, and the operator would tie the broken strands together with a silk knot. Other employees were involved in the steaming, dying and stretching of the silk, while others worked in the shipping department, sending the processed silk product to market.
The mill was described as “the only remaining silk mill in the United States with its machinery, company records and workers’ personal effects remaining unchanged from the time that the factory ceased operations in 1957.”
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January 18th, 2014
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