A rainbow in the hills of western Maryland is quickly fading and the pot of gold it leads to will soon be gone, forever.
The Lonaconing Silk Mill opened for business in 1907 and the doors were sealed closed 50 years later. Largely untouched, it remains today as a rare portal into the lives of those who paved the way for our modern day society.
Upon entering, one is immediately transported back to a time when things were much simpler and needs much greater. It takes time for ones eyes to adjust to the darkness that blankets the workplace, but when one begins to see one begins to feel and experience the magnificence. Standing amongst the hulking, ominous machinery one can imagine the thunderous noise that would have drowned out any conversation. But the voices of the workers remain in the artifacts they left behind and the stories they tell.
Today, the machinery sits cold and lifeless, and although it seems that a simple throw of a switch would spring it back to life, that switch may never be thrown. Since its closure in 1957 it has been maintained on life support. For the last 30 years or so it’s present owner has hoped that someone would share his dream to preserve the mill for future generations. On an almost daily basis he cuts the grass and sweeps the floors. But his chores have been supplemented recently with a new task – emptying out buckets of water from the third floor windows that are quickly filled whenever it rains. The roof is in urgent need of replacement. Although water is the lifeblood of our very existence it is also a great destroyer. Once water enters a building it quickly consumes the contents and a hundred year history can disappear in the blink of an eye.
I recently had an opportunity to photograph the mill and I intend to go back soon. The following are a few images from that first visit.