Lucky Welcome #14030

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The Story

This old wooden door with a lucky horseshoe brings good luck to an old water-powered mill. Sitting in rural southern Pennsylvania, it’s called the Waterside Woolen Mill and the specialty was blankets. The first mill here began in 1830 but this current building was erected in 1860. A true piece of living history, they made blankets for the Union Army here during the Civil War. The old imported machinery inside still runs although an electric motor is used for power rather than water. Today, they make replica blankets for Civil War reenactors with US Army woven into them.

The building is on a solid foundation of local light gray limestone that still stands firm and square. There are two more wooden stories above, with most of the machinery on those second and third floors. This main door and lockset that uses a skeleton key may very well be original, and the title of Lucky Welcome is from that lucky horseshoe above the door. Note that it hangs open side up to hold the good luck in!

Inside on the working floors, everything runs on leather belts and pulleys suspended from the ceiling. The old English-made looms make the patterns from cards with punched holes, much like an early computer. Today, the waterwheel is inoperative, yet the mill pond and dam are still there. Back in the day, there were many shepherds with flocks of sheep in the area who would bring clipped wool here for spinning and manufacture. That old industry is long gone but nowadays wool already spun is brought in from elsewhere.

The blankets produced here were always the broadly woven type made with thicker yarns. To see one, the picture Blanket Mill Bobbins #14029 shows one of the blankets with some original wooden bobbins and thick yarn that was used here. The modern wool is taken from the larger spools and rewrapped onto the old wooden bobbins, or quills, that fit into the antique machinery.

Find out more about this mid-1800s piece of living history Waterside Woolen Mill on their Facebook page.

And just for kicks, here’s an article about why horseshoes bring good luck. Perhaps it has something to do with using seven nails to attach them to a hoof? And there are other legends surrounding lucky horseshoes told there too.

Location: Waterside, Bedford County, Pennsylvania. Picture and text © Andrew Dierks

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