Historic Structures

Mill Equipment Indiana Cotton Mills, Cannelton Indiana

Hamilton Smith planned a cotton mill of 10,800 spindles and 372 looms and Colonel James ordered the carding, spinning, and weaving machinery from William Mason and Sons of Taunton, Massachusetts. The original cost estimate of the equipment was $160,000 but much of it worked poorly and the final cost was closer to $175,000.

A steam engine fueled by coal from the nearby beds transmitted power to the machinery via a system of shafts and belts. The engine was a double horizontal high pressure engine with two 24 cylinders driven by 13 boilers. Contemporary newspaper accounts describe the engine as generating 20 hp, but given the size of the cylinders and number of boilers, this seems an extremely low figure. Minerals in the water proved to be a serious problem and within 5 years caused the replacement of the entire power generating system. After 15 working days, lime in the water produced a 1/16 inch scale deposit on the boiler which took two days to remove. The owners tried various methods to overcome the problem but it proved intractable, and in 1859-60 a new 400 horsepower engine was purchased.

A good description of the workings of the mill is difficult to compile. Some idea of the actual production can be gained in scattered accounts. According to a description published in 1854, the work of the mill was divided into the following departments:
1. Picker room. Here the cotton was opened and mixed. it employed eight workers and was housed in the low wing to the east
2. Carding room. in this room were 108 cards, 12 drawing frames, 5 Taunton Speeders, and 6 fly frames. It employed 65 persons.
3. Spinning room. In this room were 85 spinning frames, 10,800 spindles and 16 drop wire warpers,
4. Dressing and drawing room with 21 men employed.
5. Weaving room. Here 372 looms were operated by 115 operatives,
6. Cloth room. The cloth was trimmed, folded and baled by five or six employees.
7. Batting factory.
8.The machine shop, in the basement.

This list does not give the location of each of these departments, however. There is an 1890 list which does show where the operations took place, but this is probably not the original arrangement:
1. Basement: machine shop, weaving and baling, roller covering.
2. First floor, main building: carding and roving.
3. Second floor: weaving.
4. Third floor: roving and spinning.
5- Attic: spooling, warping, cressing, drawing in, spinning and harness cleaning.