- The Washington Times - Monday, August 4, 2008

LONACONING, Md. | The dusty, faded page from July 1957 still advertises A.F. Green’s insurance company.

But few have seen the calendar - or many other possessions left behind 51 years ago. During a labor dispute, 300 employees walked out of Lonaconing’s Klots Throwing Mill and never returned.

Burt Rowan, a mill employee in the 1940s, told Western Maryland’s Historical Library that the mill “kept the bread and butter on a lot of people’s tables because of the coal mine strikes and other problems, and it really helped the economy.”

At the now-silent mill, a woman’s powder box and puff join a pair of shoes and umbrellas left behind; a sign on a swinging door reads “Gents Toilet.”

Despite the efforts of Maryland preservation organizations, security cameras and watchful neighbors living near the old mill, the site where silk was made for 50 years may not be preserved.

“Some people put their retirement money in a 401(k). I put mine in an old silk mill,” Herb Crawford said.

Mr. Crawford, of Frostburg, is part owner with Joyce Growden of Cumberland and they are looking for buyers. If they don’t find one, Mr. Crawford, 73, will accept an offer from one of two people looking to salvage construction materials from the building dating to 1905, he said.

“I still want the mill saved, but I’m running out of time and money,” he said. “The most immediate need is for somebody to fix the roof.”

Another option may exist if Yuki Ide and Kazuo Onose can find a connection between the Tomioka Silk Mill in Japan and the Klots facility.

They are representatives from a Gunma prefectural government organization focused on Japanese culture and history. If the two find a connection between Japan and the 48,000-square-foot mill, buildings on the site could be eligible for world heritage status and international funding.

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