We went down to Walpole today. Garry was doing a television show with his friend, Tom Ellis, a “wrap up” to his Hall of Fame induction.
I’d been to Walpole Community Television before. Several times and once, when I was a new author, I was interviewed on a show there. Yet I had never noticed the building was a converted mill. I usually notice architecture, but I guess my mind was on other things.
Today I noticed. The thing is, the building doesn’t look like a mill — not from the outside, anyway. It’s quite small, as mill buildings go and there’s no river or pond visible. It turns out, there is a small stream which runs alongside the building. Perhaps it was larger a hundred years ago. Probably much of the water has been diverted or sent underground.
Walpole isn’t in the valley … not the Blackstone or the Merrimack. The river valleys are where I expect to find mills. But really, there are mills — old mills — all over New England. Wherever a river or a stream ran, someone built a mill. Milford, Millis, Millville, Milbridge, Millbury. From Connecticut to Maine, you’ll find the mill towns and the old mills around which the towns grew.
The mills were our first industry and now, they are gone to China or other places. When the mills left New England, the region’s economy went with it and despite a few short bursts of economic prosperity, the economy has never returned.