Sunday, February 22, 2009

Walking in the ruins of the industrial age at Stottville

Approaching Stottville, New York from the west on county road 20. The old Stott/Juilliard factories are across Claverack Creek. The lower dam is visible just past the factories.

The upper dam, as seen from Town Garage Road which leads into the ruins of the factories. Columbia County road 20 crosses Stockport Creek above the falls and continues to Greenport and Hudson on state route 9

A view of two walls of Mill #2 still standing. The roof has collapsed, and there are many dangerous spots where the unwary could plunge through rotted floors. Surprisingly, there are no warning or trespassing signs on the factory property.

Mill#3 is the only building still standing of the four built by the Stott family in the late 1880s. Windows, insulation and other features of this building show twentieth century renovations.

The interior of Mill#3 is still strewn with wreckage of its last commercial occupant, a manufacturer of cardboard boxes.

A box for "adult non-alcoholic whiskey flavored lollipops," which apparently had market appeal when the box manufacturer was in operation. Another set of cardboard boxes lists Kandy Kane King of nearby Hudson as the candy maker. The company is no longer in business.

Going into the office. We tried to imagine the meetings that took place here when company officers and employees realized that that they were going out of business. Where did the workers go when Juilliard ceased operations in 1953? What became of the workers in the low-tech firms that briefly used this building in subsequent decades?

The boss's desk. Among the papers on the floor was a "Hand Glue Record" from June, 24, 1966 which listed orders completed for a variety of packaging clients, including Skinners Nuts, Four Star, and Magic Marker. This was the last date we found. It is likely that the end of manufacturing came around this time. The extent to which papers and records were scattered suggests that employment ended suddenly, without much advance notice.

Time card rack gives an idea of how many workers were employed here even in the latter days of manufacturing. There are no longer any major employers in Stottville, although work is available at Walmart and other retail stores in Greenport. Only a mile or two away, a new mall is under construction by the Widewaters Corporations. Like all malls, it will sell plenty of products manufactured outside of the USA by poorly paid foreign workers, further contributing to the economic decline of the United States.

A card table and two chairs seem to be arranged for conversation. This is one of the few signs that anyone has been in the property for the past forty years. We did not observe any empty beer cans, cigarette butts or candy wrappers. Perhaps adolescents in this area are not attracted to abandoned buildings, or maybe there are not that many children or young people left in a town where jobs disappeared long ago. However, an officer from the Stockport Police did show up when we left the grounds and said he saw our car and was afraid that teenagers were going in the old factory. We assured him that our interest was purely historical.

Before leaving, we visited the field of debris behind Mill #3 stood and noticed this fieldstone foundation below the ruins of the brick mills, possibly from the preceding pre-Civil War era factory. A channel for a sluiceway runs from the lower falls to this location, which would have allowed waterpower to drive the machinery. Cotton fabric was produced from raw cotton in such mills, allowing Northerners to profit from slavery.
As we left Stottville's ruined factories, we talked about those ruins in other parts of the world to which tourists flock. Pictured above is Chichen Itza, a Mayan ruin popular with vacationers in Cancun. Why are we willing to spend money to see the remains of distant, ancient societies and at the same time ignore the rich potential for archeological investigation into our own immediate past?


  1. Start looking now for properties with really depressed prices and alerting your downstate friends to the rich upstate opportunities.

  2. Thanks, my Polish grandparents worked in #3 all their lives. I appreciate the pics.