• Boott Cotton Mills Museum with Trolley

    Lowell

    National Historical Park Massachusetts

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  • Trolleys Out of Service until Saturday August 23

    Due to repair work, the trolleys will not be running until Saturday, August 23. Daily boat tours will still be running, with a 1/4 mile walk from the visitor center. The 2:30 trolley tour will be offered as a walking tour. More info at 978-970-5000.

  • Lowell NHP Superintendents Compendium upate.

    The Superintendents Compendium has been updated in regard to the use of unmanned aircraft in national park areas. More »

Mill Power Drives

Next: Power Looms
 
Belt driven power looms

Line shafts provided motive power to the looms Lowell's mills.

National Park Service

Once a wheel or turbine had harnessed the waters power, the mill engineer had to transfer the power throughout the mill to hundreds of machines. British and early American mills ran a vertical shaft off the main drive shaft, then transferred the power by gears to overhead shafts on each floor. Because it was difficult to get precisely machined gears, American mills were rough and noisy and had to be run at slow speeds. A few small mills used belting, but it wasn't until Paul Moody used belting in the Appleton Mills in 1828 that it was seriously considered as an alternative to shafting. Leather belts transferred power directly to the horizontal shafts on each floor. Belts allowed faster speeds and were quieter and less jarring than shafting. Belting was also much lighter, easier to maintain, and more forgiving of imprecise mill construction. By mid-century, belting had become a distinguishing characteristic of American mills.

Source: Lowell National Historical Park Handbook 140

 
Next: Power Looms

Did You Know?

Factory Bell, Lowell, MA

The factory bells dominated daily life in Lowell. They woke the workers at 4:30 a.m., called them into the mill at 4:50, rang them out for breakfast and back in, out and in for dinner, out again at 7 p.m. at the day's close. The whole city, it seemed, moved together and did the mills' bidding.