Lonaconing Silk Mill: Portrait of Place

The Lonaconing Silk Mill, owned by the Klotz Throwing Company, located in the hills of Western Maryland opened for business during a period of prosperity in 1907. Its doors were subsequently sealed closed following a period of industrial unrest 50 years later. As the site has been largely untouched since its closure, one is immediately transported upon entering back to a time when things were much simpler and needs much greater.  It takes time for one’s eyes to adjust to the darkness that blankets the once workplace of the Lonaconing Silk Mill, but as the shadows dissipate one gradually begins to feel and experience life from a bygone era.

Although the machinery sits cold and lifeless, one imagines that the simple throw of a power switch could spring it back to life.  The silence is overwhelming, but as you stand amongst the lifeless machines and listen carefully, voices of the Lonaconing Silk Mill workers begin to transcend the passage of time.  First one voice and then another.  More join the crowd and the chatter is of hardship and gossip.  Imagination begins to breathe life into the machines and they slowly come alive, their pulsing heartbeat intensifying in tempo, pushing the voices into the background. Barely decipherable, they persist in their story – a story in which the last chapter is still unwritten, but soon may be.  They want to give their own ending, an ending that would leave something behind to remember them by.  Something elaborate and dignified would be nice, but most of all the voices want to stay together, they do not want to be broken up and sent to places far apart where they can no longer be heard.  The Lonaconing Silk Mill was not just a place of work it was a place where friendships and lifelong bonds were made, as strong as the silk they wove but just as delicate, prone to sudden and catastrophic failure.

The building that remains today of the once magnificent Klotz Throwing Company Lonaconing Silk Mill may be nothing more than bricks and mortar, but its soul is the stories its occupants told through the artifacts they left behind.

The following images are from my newly completed project that I will be launching at the Nature Visions Expo in Manassas, VA on Saturday November 12, 2011.  I have also published a book and e-book of the project, further details of which can be seen on my Announcements Page.

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