And did those feet in ancient times
I've been wanting to do a "mills" cache ever since I moved to Manchester. At one time, the Amoskeag Manufacturing Company was the largest textile manufacturer in the world, and there were thirty mill buildings in Manchester.
walk upon England's mountains green?
And was the holy Lamb of God
on England's pleasant pastures seen?
And did the countenance divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here
Among these dark satanic mills?
(from Jerusalem, by William Blake)
This cache will take you on a tour of the mills. You can do it in a car if you're in a hurry, but if you can take the time, walking the route will give you a tremendous appreciation for the hopes and dreams, the sweat and the incredible hard work that went into the textile mills of Manchester.
1) The Overlook: We'll start at the beginning: the water and the First Nations who lived here. The first Europeans came to settle the Amoskeag in the 1720s; but almost exactly a century before, European explorers had brought with them an epidemic that killed over 90% of the natives in the area. A few Abenaki (of the Algonquin language group) remained. We're starting the cache at the Amoskeag Falls, a rich fishing-grounds for the Abenaki and the major reason Manchester was to become an industrial giant – the power of the water.
Note: The starting waypoint is closed from dusk until 7:30AM. It is also closed when PSNH feels like closing it. The view is tremendous and certainly worth waiting for.
This waypoint is at 43 00.072N, 71 28.151W. Enjoy the view, and answer the following question:
On the plaque, the words that follow the title (Overlook) are:
- the gathering place (E = 449 )
- the place of many fish (E = 362)
- the place of two canals (E = 507)
- Neville Point (E = 410)
In case the gate is locked and you don't want to come back, when was the nearby substation built?:
- 1939 (E = 449 )
- 1940 (E = 362)
- 1941 (E = 507)
- 1942 (E = 410)
2) The Jefferson Mill: This is the first of several mills you'll see on this tour, and the most elegantly renovated. If you are doing this tour during the day, take a few minutes to step inside: there is a wealth of pictures and artifacts on display in the lobby and corridors that rival the nearby Millyard Museum. If you enter through the clocktower entrance, go past the elevator and continue exploring to your right: you'll have the opportunity to get a sense of just how large this building really is.
The waypoint is at 42 59.838N, 71 28.093W. Imagine the hundreds of people working this mill (in summer, windows had to be closed to prevent contamination of the cloth – just imagine how hot it was!) and answer the following question:
How many white circular caution signs are on the building facing Commercial Street?
- 6 (F = 15)
- 5 (F = 222)
- 8 (F = 110)
- 16 (F = 28)
3) The Mill Girl: This famous statue commemorates the women who worked the mills. This was the first opportunity for many women to get out of the house and earn money on their own, and the opportunity proved irresistible to many. Women became supervisors and one of them, Margaret Knight, became an inventor after witnessing a fatal accident involving a spindle; she went on to create and patent a number of inventions in the textile industry.
The waypoint is at 42 59.499N, 71 28.041W. Imagine all the girls from Québec and Ireland flocking to Manchester in order to earn a living working the mills, and answer the following question:
What entrance is to the right of the plaque?
- North (G = 50)
- South (G = 56)
- Service (G = 64)
- Main (G = 139)
4) The Last Undeveloped Mill: In contrast to the beauty of the present-day Jefferson Mill, this mill building – the last to be in use manufacturing textiles – has suffered a number of setbacks, not least of which a fire in 2005 that gutted the unoccupied building. Now, it is in the process of being revitalized. Gone is the forest that once grew on the roof of this mill. We'll see what progress will bring us.
The waypoint is at 42 59.234N, 71 28.106W. What year was this mill constructed?
- 1847 (H = 14)
- 1850 (H = 17)
- 1851 (H = 20)
- 1855 (H = 23)
5) Worker Housing: Until 1920, Manchester was a "strikeless city;" the workers identified with the corporation, and the latter provided them with amenities that kept unions away. These amenities included healthcare, children's recreation, home ownership opportunities, a textile club, a library, and classes. Much of the housing offered by the AMC, conveniently located near the mills, is still in use, some renovated better than others.
The waypoint is at 42 59.365N, 71 27.920W. You're now on West Merrimack Street. When heading down West Merrimack from Elm Street toward Canal Street, note the first building on your right after the second parking lot on your right. It is number:
- 97 (J = 91)
- 62 (J = 310)
- 88 (J = 124)
- 153 (J = 33)
6) Millyard Museum: If you are doing this cache during the day, by all means visit the Millyard Museum and learn more about the city's history. (Free passes to the museum are available to Manchester residents at the Manchester City Library). Here you'll learn about the canals and the hydro-power that made the mills possible; the great flywheel disaster; the ambiance of a "company city" (all shops were open late on Thursday nights, for example – since Thursday was payday at the AMC). You'll also see how the company's amenities finally ceased to be enough when between 1841 and 1845 mill workers' workloads were increased, but pay was cut twice, actions seen by the workers as a betrayal of trust. The strikes began and the mills never recovered; the AMC mills shut down for good on Christmas Eve, 1935.
The waypoint is at 42 59.382N, 71 28.058W. There is a large number on the clock tower here. That number is:
- 26 (K = 0)
- 6 (K = 45)
- 13 (K = 92)
- 3 (K = 18 )
7) The Final: le petit Canada: Congratulations! Now you can relax and enjoy the view of the river that made the local industrial revolution possible. Here too you're facing the area where a whole community of workers from Québec established "le petit Canada" and where to this day you can still go and eat poutine! (Note: you cannot actually see the restaurant where you can eat poutine, or indeed le petit Canada from this site; you're not in that part of town: you're merely looking in that direction and using your imagination!)
The cache is located at:
42 59.L (where L = E + F + G)
71 28.M (where M = H + J + K)
The cache is a logbook only cache so bring your own pencil, ballpoint pen or sharpie. It may be wet but the logbook is made of waterproof paper.
There is much more to learn about the mills and both the amazing technical advances made as well as some of the poignant stories of child labor, long labor, and xenophobia. If you'd like to learn more, the Images of America series has a great book called "Manchester: The Mills and the Immigrant Experience," by Gary Samson; the Postcard History Series gives great images of the city (and its many floods!) in "Manchester" by Robert Perrault; and hit either the library, amazon.com, or the giftshop at the Millyard Museum for the most in-depth look at the mills: "Amoskeag: Life and Work in an American Factory-City," by Tamara Hareven and Randolph Langenbach.