On Wednesday, Oct 10 we left Maine heading south on I-95. It has been a cold, rainy last few days and as we left Saco it was barely 42 degrees. We drove across New Hampshire into Massachusetts on I-495. Traffic was heavy with lots of RVs heading south, time for Florida and Maine to once again exchange their populations. Remember we decided there are two groups of people up north: the ones with huge woodpiles and the ones with RVs. The woodpiles stay, the RVs leave for the winter.
As we crossed the Merrimack River we recalled this was the name given to one of the early iron clad ships during the Civil War. This is also the site of another huge brick mill complex at Lawrence, MA. In 1905, the American Woolen Company built the largest mill in the world, the Wood Mill in Lawrence, followed by the neighboring Ayer Mill in 1909. The Ayer mill’s 22 Foot diameter 4-sided clocktower is only a foot smaller than Big Ben and purportedly only second to it in size in the world (among chiming 4-sided clocktowers). Working conditions in the mills were unsafe and in 1860 the Pemberton Mill collapsed, killing 145 workers.As immigrants flooded into the United States in the mid to late 19th century, the population of Lawrence abounded with skilled and unskilled workers from almost every nation in Europe: Ireland, France, Italy, Germany, Belgium, Poland, and Lithuania; French-Canadians from the provinces of Quebec, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island; and farm girls from all over New England. Lawrence became known as Immigrant City very early in its existence, and can reasonably boast that for its small geographic size (less than 6 square miles) it has had more immigrants from a greater variety of countries in the world per capita, than any other city of its size on Earth. Immigrants from the Dominican Republic and migrants from Puerto Rico began arriving in Lawrence in significant numbers in the late 1960s, attracted by cheap housing and a history of tolerance toward immigrants. In 1984, tensions between remaining working class whites and increasing numbers of Hispanic youth flared into a riot, centered at the intersection of Haverhill Street and Railroad Street where a number of buildings were destroyed by Molotov cocktails and over 300 people were arrested. Lawrence saw further setbacks during the recession of the early 1990s as a wave of arson plagued the city. Over 200 buildings were set alight in an eighteen month period in 1991–92, many of them abandoned residences and industrial sites. Sad to see this as it really is a pretty location on the Merrimack River. We drove on passing through New York and into Pennsylvannia with the rain all day and rough roads being worked on every 15-20 miles. Boring!!