Old Slater Mill
About This Site
Step back in time to the birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution. American industrialists, including Moses Brown, had been struggling during the 18th century to build a consistently working spinning machine. Brown, along with his son-in-law and cousin, started a mill in Pawtucket and acquired a spindle frame of Arkwright design that they could not operate. In England, twenty-one-year-old Samuel Slater was working with that same design. Slater offered his water-powered cotton mill expertise from abroad to Brown in 1790 and immigrated to the U.S. to join Brown’s mill in 1789. Slater’s exchange of textile trade secrets was in violation of British law and earned him the name “Slater the Traitor” back home.
Slater and Brown opened the original Slater Mill in 1793 which is today restored to its 1835 appearance. A National Historic Landmark, the complex now serves as an educational center and a museum of the history of textile manufacturing in America. Inside, visitors can view textiles, photographs, documents, and operable spinning and weaving machines built between 1775 and 1922. On site, the 1810 Wilkinson Mill includes a working waterwheel that still powers the machine shop.
Behind The Scenes
Hear the roar of an old textile machine and visit the wheel pit.