Saturday, May 30, 2015
I've been wanting to visit the Willamette Heritage Center in Salem for a while now, and the Sheep to Shawl festival seemed like the perfect time. It features some lovely old historic buildings, especially the buildings of the Thomas Kay Woolen Mill from 1895. The whole place seems worlds away from the surrounding downtown. Much original machinery is still intact. It's very appealing to look at now. But the guide on our tour hinted that at the time the mill was operating, it might not have been such a pleasant place to work. She turned on one of the looms, and a deafening clang filled the factory. She asked us to imagine the din from the large number of looms operating on two floors of the mill simultaneously! She also related that the picturesque mill stream was irresistible to children on hot days. But when swimming they found it necessary to post guards upstream to give a shout if the dye house began draining their dyes, lest every swimmer emerge head to toe a vivid color. It was evident throughout the grounds that the kinds of precautions when harsh chemicals are in use that are expected today were not yet required. It would be quite interesting to tour this mill back to back with the Pendleton Woolen Mill in Washougal. The machinery they are using there today is also quite old and clearly built to last!