I recently got a chance to visit the Klotz Silk Mill in Lonaconing Maryland. Not only was this exciting for me because I love old machines, but I happen to live in a converted cotton mill so I got to see first hand what I imagine my building might have once looked like. Built in 1907 the mill’s history shows first hand the evolution of labor in America; both the advantages, and ultimately fatal pitfalls, of a working American factory. It was closed in 1957 and has slowly been deteriorating ever since.

One of the things that make Klotz unique among abandoned buildings is the equipment inside. Just about everything was abandoned in place, and has been left intact. Most other locations I have visited have been mostly stripped of contents, either sold off or moved when first abandoned, or stripped by scrappers. The current owner Herb Crawford is a great character, when I arrived he was busily unloading his riding lawn mower so he could get the grass cut, at 70+ years old! He has done a good job of protecting the mill for many years. After photographing in the mill for several hours I sat down and spoke with Herb about this great building. Many folks have tried to help preserve the building, but for various reasons no official protection status has been granted. The building is slowly decaying, and pressure from salvage companies to get their hands on the manufacturing equipment continues to grow.

If you are in the area I would definitely recommend scheduling a tour with Herb. If you know of a roofing company that would donate their labor to get the roof repaired that would be most helpful. Contacting both the Lonaconing Chamber of Commerce and Maryland preservation society to voice your support would also be appreciated.

The above image is available as an original silver gelatin print.

More information about the mill can be found at Lonaconing’s website