Springdale Woolen Mill

Holden, Massachusetts
The ruins of the Spingdale Woolen Mill in Holden, Massachusetts tell the story of a bygone era when manufacturing was done locally.
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The ruins of the Spingdale Woolen Mill in Holden, Massachusetts tell the story of a bygone era when manufacturing was done locally. These ruins can be found about a mile and a half from the Mass Central Rail Trail trailhead in Holden, Massachusetts. The rail trail is a wonderful public resource. Located snugly between the Quinapoxet River and the MCRT, the stone foundations of the mill and its workers’ village in Springdale, Holden, offer a glimpse into the industrial past of the region.

The story of the Springdale Mill began in 1864 with the construction of an impressive 85-foot dam across the Quinapoxet River. This dam, later extended to 115 feet, created a millpond that powered the operations of the woolen mill. Initially built of wood and equipped with two sets of machinery, the mill opened its doors for business under the ownership of Mr. J.L. Smith in 1865. However, tragedy struck in 1875 when the original wooden mill was consumed by fire.

Undeterred, the mill was swiftly rebuilt under the new ownership of J.G. Smith, this time constructed from sturdy granite quarried near the site. Boasting four sets of machinery, the revitalized mill thrived, producing 250,000 yards of fancy cassimeres by 1879 and employing over 35 people from the community of Springdale. With the advent of the Mass Central Railroad in 1882, the mill gained access to more efficient transportation, further fueling its growth. A railroad siding, bridge, and passenger station were added to facilitate the transport of goods and workers.

In 1892, James Dorr took over the mill, rebranding it as the Glen Woolen Mills and shifting its focus to the production of satinets. Despite its success, the mill’s fate was sealed in 1905 when it was acquired by the Metropolitan Water and Sewerage Board to protect the water quality of the Wachusett Reservoir. Subsequently, the dam was destroyed, and the mill, along with its village, was razed.

Today, the foundations of the mill and village buildings serve as a poignant reminder of the area’s industrial past. While succumbing to the passage of time, efforts are underway to stabilize and preserve these historic structures, allowing them to narrate the vibrant story of the mill’s 42-year existence. As visitors explore the site, they are transported back in time, almost sensing the presence of the ghosts of generations past. In preserving this slice of local history, future generations will continue to cherish and appreciate the legacy of the Springdale Woolen Mill.


Address: River Street, Holden, Massachusetts
Place GPS Coordinates: 42.383417, -71.823444
Parking GPS Coordinates: 42.383417, -71.823444
Parking Notes: There are a few parking areas for the rail trail. One of the best parking areas for visitors of the Sprindale Woolen Mill ruins can be found along River Street in Holden, Massachusetts.

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