Blackinton Mill

From modest beginnings in the 1820s, the Blackinton Mill grew to form the center of a thriving community.

In March 1822 Sanford Blackinton, Rufus Wells, and Joseph L. White built a small two story factory that stood near the road of the presentday mill.  The mill cost roughly eight hundred dollars and was fitted with second hand machinery from an old woolen mill in Williamstown.  The mill manufactured satinets and pantaloon wear worth seventy five cents a yard and only fifty yards per day.  All the weaving was done by hand looms. 

The business grew quickly, with improvements in powered looms, enlarging the factory, and the purchase of other factories in the area.  A community formed around the mill, with its own general store, post office, church, school, jail, and library.  The company was at the time the biggest manufacturer of wool in western Massachusetts.  By the 1850s, S. Blackinton & Co. was producing three hundred thousand pounds of wool and four hundred and fifty thousand yards of cloth. 

The mill flourished when the Civil War broke out.  The government granted Blackinton contracts to produce blue wool army cloth for the Union.  In 1862 a railroad depot was opened in Blackinton, increasing the movement of raw materials and manufactured goods. In 1860s and 1870s, immigrants began to pour into the area with the majority being of Welsh heritage.  The mill provided housing for its workers in two-family tenement buildings.  The company’s workforce was predominately male but the majority of weavers were women and children who worked as assistants in carding, spinning, and weaving. 

This also was an era of change that saw the workers protest and go on strike for better working conditions and working hours. By the end of the century, the mill was producing high-grade cashmeres and worsteds.  In 1901 the Blackinton Company would go out of business. In the twentieth century, the mill would change owners and investors multiple times trying to produce a profitable business, but finally closed in 1950.



1470 Massachusetts Avenue, North Adams, MA