Text and photos by Kim Hairston
Afternoon rays stream through broken windows highlighting century old machines, wooden floorboards, peeling paint and thousands of bobbins in a 48,000-square-foot, abandoned factory.
Built in the early 1900s, the Klots Throwing Company Mill, also called the Lonaconing Silk Mill, produced silk thread from raw silk. At its peak the company employed over 300 hundred people. Most of them were female and many were children.
When the business closed, it was operated by General Textile Mills. Labor disputes, antiquated machines and the development of synthetic materials led to its demise. Few employees were left and the mill was shuttered on Friday, July 7, 1957. Some of their personal items are still enclosed in the old building.
Herb Crawford, the mill’s caretaker and part owner, is trying to preserve what he believes to be the last existing silk mill in the United States. He bought the abandoned factory 39 years ago when he learned an east coast sewing company wanted to relocate, but nothing came of it. To help with roof repair and the other maintenance costs, Crawford accepts donations for tours and photographs inside the building.