Photo Post – Lonaconing Silk Mill

Open Room

Last weekend I had the opportunity to photograph inside an abandoned silk mill in Lonaconing, Maryland. The mill opened in 1907, producing thread from silk imported from China and Japan and connected to the Baltimore harbor by rail. At the beginning of World War II the plant switched to making nylon thread for the war effort.

Following the war, the mill continued to produce nylon thread for consumer goods until it closed in 1957. By that time, the small size of the mill along with antiquated machines had made competition with larger and more centrally-located facilities difficult.

Here are a few of the photos I took during the visit. You can find my complete gallery here. For even more like this, I’ve assembled a collection of galleries I call Rust & Decay. Not sure why I’m attracted to this genre of image, but there’s probably some psychological term for it. :-)

The image above shows half of the second floor with rows and rows of spooling machines. It was probably very noisy in that space when everything was operational.


A couple of steam powered furnaces were used to run the machines in the mill through a pulley system. They probably also provided heat for the building, although in the middle of winter, it was likely still cold inside the large open working areas.


A view of the front of the building. The large windows, along with those along the back, probably provided most of the light for the people working inside. I didn’t see many light fixtures.

Row After Row

Another view of row after row of spinning machines. The boxes on the end contained the gears that ran the mechanisms. The space between rows is very narrow and I can imagine there were more than a few accidents when people had to navigate between machines to collect the spools.


A rusted meter on the plant’s electrical panel.

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