Living as we do in the valley where America birthed its own (100 years after they had done it all over Europe and England) industry, we can see what remains of the mills and factories that were formerly here.

This is what remains of Bernat Mills. It burnt to the ground July 21, 2007. It was wood except for that brick entry. I still remember the fire because the mill burned for a month and required the services of every firefighter — professional or volunteer — from every village in the Blackstone Valley.

The last Blackstone Valley mill or factory closed more than 100 years ago, just about 1920 or possible 1921. Mill and factory owners moved their businesses down south. It made sense. After all, cotton spinning, dying, and weaving was the bulk of the mill industry — and cotton grows in the south.

These transported mills became a backbone industry for the American south until a series of U.S. Presidents, starting with Reagan, continuing with Bush, Clinton, then Bush again handed over our industries to countries who pay workers pennies and have no health and safety regulations or child labor laws. Or unions.

It was supposed to be a two-way street,. At least that was what they assured us. It would, they said (and I didn’t believe a word of it) bring Americans less expensive products and would ramp up our home economy be giving us an infusion of new trading partners. As I feared, it did exactly the opposite.

You have to wonder who made the most money in this trade-off. Both the Democrats and Republicans signed off on it. It began with Reagan and continued with Clinton who I think signed the final papers. There were no innocent parties to this disaster.

Our “new” trading partners don’t do much actual trading. Mostly, they sell us cheaper goods and buy far less than they sell. Whether you like it or not, everything electronic is made in China or nearby. You won’t find it made in the U.S. because we have no production facilities for electronics. We handed them over to save a few bucks and now we are paying a huge price. No matter what either party says about this, both parties signed on to this travesty.

Slaterville Mill is oldest mill in the Blackstone Valley before its restoration. It’s much prettier now. There was a very similar mill in Uxbridge — the Crown & Eagle — which has been converted into a senior housing development
This is one of the best (and most popular) senior housing projects in the valley with a multi-year-long waiting list

This idiotic trade-off cost the U.S. millions of jobs which have never been replaced. It did not lower costs of goods nearly enough to make up for all the lost jobs. All that stuff is now made largely in China as well as India, Vietnam, Pakistan, Thailand, Malaysia, and many more. The one place they don’t make them is HERE.

Roaring falls in Blackstone – Photo: Garry Armstrong. In the “old days,” there would have been a big mill or factory next to the dam. The Blackstone was the powerhouse behind our industrial revolution

Why did we do it? I still can’t figure it out. It was years ago. It didn’t make sense from the start, but we persisted until, in the end, we lost our entire industrial base. All our factories were gone — and millions of essential jobs vanished, probably permanently. If they are coming back, you couldn’t tell by anything I’ve seen. There have been many promises made, but not much to show for it

What do we have have to show for it? Empty shells of mills and factories that once buzzed with business. Don’t sell your birthright for a bowl of lentils unless you really love lentils.

Categories: #American-history, #BlackstoneRiver, #DamsAndWaterfalls, #Photography, Blackstone Valley, Economics

Tags: , , , , ,

13 replies

  1. Breathtaking photos. Makes me so sad how things aren’t preserved and what consumerism has done.


    • We’ve done some preserving, but mostly, a lot of thing have just gotten very old and many are still in use, though probably not their original use. Personally, I think most of us — probably especially Americans — have far more stuff than we need or will ever use. And getting rid of it is more of an issue than ever. I’m not sure we’re learning any of the lessons Earth is trying to teach us, either.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s always sad to see once proud, busy buildings abandoned, burned out, falling to the ground and totally useless. I knew everything I buy lately came from China or countries near by, but didn’t know the extent of it all. It’s just such a shame that this country doesn’t preserve the old buildings.


    • We literally sold our birthright. All the inventions we made here — wireless connectors and super-fast processors and more — went overseas. I understand that we are trying to avoid heavy industry that comes with serious pollution issues, but high tech isn’t a heavy polluter, We still do most of the research here — but they do all the production there. Then people say they want things that are made in the USA. That’s very nice, but they should have said something during the almost 20 years — 5 administrations of Democrat and Republican — it took to pass this stupid, ugly piece of legislation. There is not a single computer manufactured in the US nor a TV or a sound system either — or telephone. Handing it over was easy. Getting it back? I’m not sure it will ever happen.


  3. It only makes sense when you realise the only ones who do well out of the entire thing are the mill owners or the ones they pay well such as politicians.

    It was never about you and the rest of the workers. Just another con by the politicians and the rich. Reagan was good at his job!

    It’s what happened to us in the UK. Our mill companies started mills all across the world at the start of the last century. My family were working class mill workers. My uncle wanted to be a manager, but only middle class got to be management in this country. So he transferred to a mill in China as a manager in the early 30’s. (And later ended up as an internee in a Japanese camp.)
    Now all our mills are gone, except for a few that make specialised products (aerospace/racing).


    • It was so OBVIOUSLY a con. Whichever party was in power, they both pushed the bill forward until finally, they successfully got rid of all our electronics and a lot more. For some reason, people actually BELIEVED them when they said this was “good” for Americans. Any idiot could see it was bad from the get-go.


  4. You are 100% correct, Marilyn.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Its sad how much the industry has died, isnt it?


%d bloggers like this: