Whither North American Woolen Mills?
Small Farmer's Journal, Spring 2007




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When the market insists that the commercial value of wool is less than the cost to produce it, small farmers are caught between a rock and a hard place. But there is a point where the interests of small farmers and that of mill owners intersect. I headed to Harrisville, a mill town nestled in the Monadnock Highlands on the southwestern side of New Hampshire, in the hope of finding out exactly where that point was.

Why Harrisville? Because it is the only 19th century textile village that still exists in its original form. While it figures on the Department of the Interior’s register of National Historic Landmarks, it is an operating mill town where wool has been spun since 1794. In every respect, it is a small village that hearkens back to a bygone era where draft horses worked the surrounding hill farms, and 12,000 sheep grazed its green pastures. People still greet you in the street, and while the village can boast of little more than a small public library, a general store and a post office, the 213 year old tradition of wool continues unabated.

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