Friday, August 17, 2007

Woolen Mills dam

a record rainfall of 1.48" was set at Charlottesville yesterday. This breaks the old record of 0.92" set in 2005--Weather Underground

Behind these small, wide-spread mills during the early period in their history were several common forces. Available water power, local wool supply, and a local market sufficiently isolated from both imported or domestic fabrics were the necessary ingredients. Of particular importance were transportation facilities. Before about 1850, even areas near the coast could be supplied with cloth only after paying high transportation costs. Thus homemade cloth or the crude products of early mills filled a very vital need. But for the gradual expansion of these mills in the years after 1830, the means of transportation had to be improved, as we have noted. An eminent authority on American wool manufacture, explaining the growth of the industry, has flatly declared: "The status of transportation facilities was the most important factor in the earlier decades."

Another force at work in these early years which has to this day remained a topic of debate was the tariff system. The tariff of 1816 with its twenty-five percent duty on wool and woolens was not enough to stem the tide of foreign competition. Nevertheless, following the panic of 1819 woolen manufacturing had revived and was on the way to a factory basis when in 1828 substantial protection was received for the first time by a forty-five percent ad valorem duty on woolen goods. Beginning in 1832, the rate tended to decline until the tariff act of 1867 again raised significant barriers to foreign cloth. That the effect of duties on wools and woolens was great among the multitude of small mills dotting the South and West is doubtful, for those factories largely used locally grown wool and sold to a restricted community.--Harry Poindexter

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