Photographer Christopher Payne began a study of old textile mills on the East Coast in 2010. The first factories in the U.S. were textile mills in New England. The vast majority have been torn down and a few re-purposed. A small number of these classic old mills are still in business weaving, knitting, spinning, and dying textiles. Not all American textile labor has moved to Asia. Come along on this visual journey.
Ancient equipment separates & cleans raw wool in the Bartlettyarns Spinnery in Maine. It is the oldest operating "mule-spun woolen mill" in the U.S. and in business since 1820.
Yarns are dyed a brilliant pink!
Look at the iron work table on the right! I am fascinated by ancient equipment still in use. Think of all the stories this could tell.
These are knitting machines in an old factory in Massachusetts.
This is a wool mill in Pennsylvania.
Woolen yarn is fed into a carpet loom in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania.
These vintage Singer sewing machines are at the New England Shirt Company in Fall River, Massachusetts. This area was once the largest cotton textile center in the U.S.
This is the inspection process at a wool plaid mill. I love all the ancient wood flooring in these factories.
There still is some textile printing in the U.S. This is a print mill in a 19th century factory.
A few old textile mills have miraculously stayed in business in spite of cheap Asian and Mexican imports though many have been shuttered. These old machines were once humming with activity.
Spools of colorful threads are ready for use. Our old textile factories are historical treasures and hopefully can continue to produce in some capacity. The road forward is a difficult one for what once a thriving industry.
Images: Christopher Payne