The Lonaconing Silk Mill, is the last intact silk mill in the United States. Located in Lonaconing, Maryland, the silk mill was in operation from 1907 – 1957. Initially, silk was imported from Japan and China and the mill produced silk thread, then during World War II, rayon.
In the early 1900s, a local banker, Duncan Sloan, overhead a conversation that the Klotz Throwing Company was interested in constructing a plant in western Maryland. Mr. Sloan promoted the idea that Lonaconing would be a prime location for Klotz due to the availability of a mainline railroad and plentiful, cheap energy in coal. Within weeks, Sloan was able to meet with George Klotz and J.H. Britton to propose construction of the mill. Shortly after, a public meeting was held where citizen’s of Lonaconing agreed to accept the offer for a mill.
A 250 foot by 400 foot section of land, adjacent to the railroad, was purchased and ground was broken for the new mill on August 13, 1905. The total cost of the equipment and building was $100,000.00.
In the 1920s, the payroll included over 300 people but in later years, fewer than 200 workers were employed. By the 1950s, antiquated machines in small mills made competition with larger facilities difficult. In 1957, the mill closed it’s doors for good.
Today, the silk mill is located within the National Lonaconing Historic District and the site was nominated by the George’s Creek Watershed Association for the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s list of America’s 11 most endangered historic places. The owner of the mill is currently raising money to restore the mill by allowing photographers to come in and photograph. However, there has been talks to sell the mill for scrap due to lack of preservation funding.