Lowell, Story of an Industrial City: Lowell's Other Industry

Father John's Medicine. Photo by Joe Mabel, CC BY SA 3.0
Father John's Medicine.

Photo by Joe Mabel. CC BY SA 3.0 (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Father_John%27s_Medicine.jpg)

Lowell was dominated by the textile mills in its early years. But throughout the 19th century other important industries grew up in the city. Foremost were textile machinery firms established to meet the demands of textile manufacturers throughout New England. The Lowell Machine Shop and the Kitson Machine Company were the largest of these companies, but there were many others. The Lowell Machine Shop did not limit itself to textile machinery, producing a number of steam locomotives for New England's expanding rail network. Other textile-related firms manufactured and distributed a broad array of mill fixtures, tools, and textile machine parts.

New entrepreneurs built companies unconnected with textiles. A few firms established to supply an expanding national market for Patent medicines grew into a major Lowell industry. The Hood and Ayer companies and Father John's Medicine were prominent in this field, pioneering in the skillful use of mass-market advertising. The city's economic base grew more and more diversified: shoe factories, boilerworks, scalemakers, a brewery. During World War I, munitions manufacturers prospered, and the United States Cartridge Company, founded shortly after the Civil War by well-known politician and general Benjamin Butler, was one of the leading employers in the city.

From: Dublin, Thomas. 1992. Lowell: the story of an industrial city: a guide to Lowell National Historical Park and Lowell Heritage State Park, Lowell, Massachusetts. Washington, D.C.: Division of Publications, National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior.

Last updated: June 15, 2018