American Powder Mills

Concord, Massachusetts
The American Powder Mills in Concord, Massachusetts was once a major manufacturing complex. The mills now sit in ruins.
Location Added By:

Table of Contents

About This Location

The American Powder Mills in Concord, Massachusetts was once a major manufacturing complex. Gunpowder was manufactured at this site from 1835 to 1929. After some tragic explosions, the mills were abandoned and now sit in ruins.

The American Powder Mills constituted a significant gunpowder manufacturing complex situated along the Assabet River in Massachusetts. Spanning across the towns of Acton, Concord, Maynard, and Sudbury, it encompassed a vast expanse of forty buildings distributed along both banks of the river. To mitigate the impact of potential explosions, press mills, kernelling mills, glazing mills, and storehouses were strategically dispersed over a sprawling four-hundred-acre area. A narrow gauge railway facilitated the transportation of raw materials and finished products between the various structures.

The history of the American Powder Mills traces back to 1835 when Nathan Pratt acquired a mill pond dam on the Assabet River and repurposed a former sawmill into a powder mill. Pratt subsequently sold the mill to the American Powder Company in 1864. Throughout the American Civil War, the mill churned out 1,000 pounds of gunpowder daily. In 1883, the American Powder Company underwent reorganization, emerging as the American Powder Mills, with its administrative offices headquartered in Boston. The facility transitioned to American Cyanamid ownership in 1929, maintaining gunpowder production until 1940.

Numerous fatal accidents marred the history of the American Powder Mills. Tragic explosions claimed the lives of workers, including incidents in 1836, 1853, and 1895. The facility’s operations even reverberated beyond its confines, with a September 4, 1915 explosion heard as far away as Lowell and Boston. The culmination of three final explosions in 1940 marked the cessation of gunpowder production at the mill, after which the property came under the ownership of W. R. Grace and Company.

Today, the Assabet River dam at the original mill pond site serves as a hydroelectric power source for the municipal Concord. Ripple Pond, created by the dam, is nestled in Acton and Maynard, embodying a legacy that intertwines industrial history with environmental stewardship.

Parking for the mill ruins can be found at the trailhead at the beginning of Black Birch Lane. There are about 3-4 parking spots on the side of the lane. The trailhead map can be seen just steps from the parking area. The hike to the main ruins is about a half-mile.

Location

Address: Black Birch Lane, Concord, Massachusetts
Place GPS Coordinates: 42.438556, -71.418833
Parking GPS Coordinates: 42.438556, -71.418833
Parking Notes: Parking for the mill ruins can be found at the trailhead at the beginning of Black Birch Lane. There are about 3-4 parking spots on the side of the lane. The trailhead map can be seen just steps from the parking area.

Place Location:

Parking Location:

Reviews

There are no reviews yet. Be the first one to write one.