Whoever says that Pittsburgh, Penn., is the birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution is blowing a lot of smoke.
Surprisingly, Pawtucket, R.I., holds the distinction of shifting the paradigm from an agricultural to a manufacturing world when, in 1793, the Slater Mill debuted the first water-powered cotton textile mill in the nation by brilliantly harnessing the power of the Blackstone River. Many historians regard the Old Slater Mill as the first successful factory in the United States, thus validating its stance
as the birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution.
Slater Mill founders Sam Slater and Moses Brown paid in cash to employees of all ages, thus bringing prosperity to families that had previously suffered through an increasingly down economy in the area. Eventually the Slater Mill, and the viral effect it had on the local economy, went south — literally and figuratively — as the textile industry became more prominent below the Mason Dixon Line.
Rhode Island is obviously a very different state today as high tech, academia and tourism help create the economy. Speaking of tourism, the Slater Mill still remains today! Now a tourist destination and a National Historic Landmark, this fascinating complex offers tours, exhibits, artifacts, a theater, a gallery and much more to educate and entertain the visitor of the Mill’s important role in American history. It’s a visual delight, too, where you can see “flax processing, cotton spinning and weaving in an 18th century artisan’s home, exhibitions of 19th and 20th century machinery.” The Slater Mill is restored to its 1835 appearance, lending further authenticity to this fascinating Rhode Island attraction.
From school age to old age, I’d strongly recommend visiting The Old Slater Mill. It’s a borderline cheap travel attraction, too, where a family of four can gain admission for around $40. For more information, you can lo onto the Old Slater Mill Web Site.