Saturday, June 21, 2014

THE WOOLEN MILL

The art of weaving fabric was an important part of the culture of the Inspirationists that came to Amana from Ebenezer (1844) and before that, Germany (1714).  The Amana Woolen Mill was one of the first and largest in Iowa,(1857). Their early weaving equipment was shipped to Ebenerzer , New York (1844) when they immigrated, then brought to Amana.(1855). The mills there and in Amana and Middle, employed many and was impressive in the business world. Some of the machinery was from Germany and devices invented by the workers went worldwide but they never patented them. Wool was purchased from other states, the best grades only such as those from Australia, Texas, and Colorado. Amana Society raised 3,000 sheep at this time too. The mill used one half million pounds of wool annually, washed, dyed, and dried in kilns. Orders for the USA government for army blankets kept communal era workers very busy. Canal water ran East to power the turbines that ran the mill looms and other machinery in the mill. Today it still powers some electricity. Lost entirely to fire in August 11, 1923, the Amana mill had much saved by lots of local help and eventually merged with the Middle mill. In 1998 it had its roof torn off by straight line winds, but recovered to become a successful business. I remember hearing the noon whistle from the watchtower, also the late night clicking of the cast iron looms, shuttles and harnesses quieted today by computerized systems and Swiss looms.







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