The Demolition of the Draper Corporation Mill, Hopedale, Massachusetts, 2021

           The Draper Corporation of Hopedale, Massachusetts was once the largest manufacturer of power looms, used in the production of cotton clothing, in the world.  Founded in the 1830's, it was a power house of the industrial revolution.  It remained in operation until the 1970's.  The demolition of its over 1 million square feet began in 2020 and is nearly complete as of mid 2021.  Textile manufacturing in the U.S. was less than 50 years old when the Drapers began their work and was still quite primitive.  The power loom made its massive expansion possible.  At its height, this factory employed over 3500 people and generated enormous wealth for its owners.
         The cotton manufacturing industry though was dependent on raw materials grown by enslaved workers on plantations in the U.S. south.  After the Civil War the system of slave plantations was supplanted by share cropping and Jim Crow laws enforced by groups such as the KKK, suppressing those who farmed the cotton.  The industry's damaging impact on the environment and the social upheaval that accompanied the rise of the mills remain problems to this day.
          In spite of their tortured past and the problems they left behind, the mills remain iconic in many of the New England communities where they flourished.  Hundreds of mills or their shells dot the New England landscape. Their size puts them in stark contrast  to the surrounding villages and farmland.  They serve as a reminder of the impact of boom and bust.

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