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WHILBR - Western Maryland's Historical Library

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About this collection

Lonaconing Silk Mill

The silk mill in Lonaconing, Allegany County, was in operation from 1907-1957. Construction of the Klotz Throwing Mill Company was begun in 1905. Initially, silk was imported from Japan and China and the factory produced silk thread and, during World War II, rayon. In the 1920s the payroll included over 300 people, but in later years fewer than 200 worked there, and by the 1950s antiquated machines in a small mill made competition with larger facilities difficult. In 1957 the mill closed. Burt Rowan, an employee in the 1940s, stated “it (the mill) kept the bread and butter on a lot of people’s tables because of the coal mine strikes and other problems, and it really helped the economy.” 

 

In 1997, four students from Allegany High School in Cumberland - Anne Failing, Erin Degyansky, Chris Jewell and Amber Sallerson - worked with their Student Service Learning coordinators, Dan Whetzel and Mike Lewis, to research the history of the Silk Mill in Lonaconing. The students interviewed former employees, studied archival and on-site records for primary sources, researched the history of the area through library material and reports from a textile industry specialist, transcribed oral histories and published the book.

 

The Silk Mill still stands in Lonaconing, as it did 50 years ago. It was added to the Endangered Maryland list in 2007, but remains in the main as the students saw in the 1990s.  Endangered Maryland, Preservation Maryland.

 

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To read the entire book, click on Browse All above. To search for a specific person or word, use the search box. To listen to Dan Whetzel's talk on the Silk Mill recorded in 2016, select Dan Whetzel - History of Lonaconing Silk Mill

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Thanks to Dan Whetzel of the Allegany County Board of Education for permission to add this piece of Allegany County history to Whilbr. 

Other publications by the Allegany High School, Oral History Project include Reflections of the Silver Screen - A History of Allegany County Movie TheatresSurviving the Great Depression - Allegany County during the 1930's , Allegany County Veterans of World War IIWork and Wait - The Home Front Years 1941-1945Prime Time: A History of Allegany County During the 1950'sWelcome Home! A History of the Vietnam War and Echoes of an Era
 
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