Thrown from the Past
Project info

Thrown from the Past
A study of the last, intact silk thread factory building in the United States.

The Klots Throwing Mill in Lonaconing, MD is one of several mills that produced silk thread and represent a throwback to the last century's economics of textile production built on labor displaced from coal mining. The lone remaining mill in Lonaconing is 7 miles south of an interstate highway through Maryland and is the last, intact silk mill in the United States. You would miss the mill entirely driving through the small town not knowing it was there, despite its size. The sound of the mill’s assorted machinery and spinning machines could be heard everywhere in the town when it was running in the 1950’s. But in July, 1957 the workers at this mill went home one Friday afternoon and returned the following week to locked factory doors. And that is the state of this place today. As a photographer, I have an obsession with the subject matter in places like this derelict factory - looking for the abstract in the weathered and found objects of abandoned places. But by the end of my first day my goals had changed. The basement of this building held a shipping crate labeled with my last name and I discovered a connection that I wanted to uncover.

This on-going work emerged over several visits to the mill. My initial goal was documenting the building and its history. My later visits progressed into a deeper exploration of this frozen place. The work focused on what was once here – people who worked in the mill and with its machinery, the personal activity and their artifacts suggesting that earlier time.

Subsequent visits revealed changes from "today's" visitors. Present day arrangements appeared and were re-sampled. This also became part of my work and exploration of this place. I’ve tried in my images to interpret all of these as a part of collaboration between this place, its modern visitors and the onslaught of time.