Friday, July 16, 1999
Summer Outings: Lowell: a day trip back to the Industrial Revolution
A good place to start a day trip in Lowell is the National Historical Park Visitor Center at Market Mills. You can explore the exhibits, watch a slide show and make reservations for summer tours.
We had called ahead for reservations for the Mills and Canal tour, which takes two and a quarter hours. This tour meets across from the visitor center and takes you to the Suffolk Mill by trolley and then through the locks and canals by boat. It's a pleasant trip if the weather is favorable. The park guide simply demonstrates how the various waterways were manipulated to provide water pressure to power the machinery in the mills as well as how the water flow is still being used today as a clean and renewable source of energy. We are hoping to find time soon to return and take the "Mill Girl" and Immigrant tour.
From the visitor center you can visit the Boott Cotton Mills where there is a museum with interactive exhibits and video programs about the industrial revolution. The turn-of-the-century trolleys provide transportation between the visitor center and the other sites and the exhibits and run every day, free. Call ahead (978-970-5000) for a long and detailed listing of tours and exhibits and to reserve ahead, or check out their web site at http://www.nps.gov/lowe/home.htm.
Just down the street from the Visitor Center, the American Textile History Museum is worth a visit. Located at 491 Dutton Street, the museum houses an impressive collection of tools and machinery used to manufacture fabric and clothing from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries through the mid- 1900s. There is something there to interest adults as well as school age children.
As you move through the museum, you can track the progress of technological innovation from the spinning wheel up until the height of the textile industry in Lowell. Also displayed are period textiles. Toward the end of the exhibits there are several large working looms that are still generating quality woven goods that can be purchased in the museum store.
This is a good place to stop for lunch. The Gazebo Café located near the entrance to the museum offers an assortment of light meals and homemade desserts. For information call (508) 441-0400 or visit their site at: http://valley.uml.edu/lowell/historic/museums/textile.html.
Not a part of the National Park, but only a short walk from the center,the New England Quilt Museum has an impressive collection of traditional and contemporary quilts and two interesting exhibits this summer. The current exhibit is titled Endangered Species, runs until August 1 and is a real treat. The contemporary quilts in this exhibit are inspired by the plight of endangered animal species, some of which are fortunately being restored to their natural habitat. Kids will especially like the jungle room. Beginning August 6, the exhibit will be replaced with "Seeing Yellow," which examines the challenge of using that color in a quilt. For more information call (978) 452-4207.
© 1999 The Carlisle Mosquito