We stopped at Lowell MA to visit the New England Quilt Museum (photography prohibited) and the Boott Cotton Mills Museum (photography encouraged). The NPS, among others, managed to salvage the buildings and restore some of the machinery, to the extent that one room on one floor of one building has some running cotton mills:
A bit more detail:
The original mills used water power, as did much of New England’s industry, but moments after Watt worked the bugs out of that newfangled steam engine, water power was history. The museum uses a huge old electric motor, mounted on the ceiling, to drive the line shafts above the mills; the vibration shakes the entire building and they hand out ear plugs at the door, despite having only half a dozen mills operating at any time. The working environment, horrific though it was, attracted employees (largely young women) from across the region; it was a better deal than they had on the family farm.
Employees were, of course, prohibited from using cotton to plug their ears…
They sell the cloth in the museum shop and we’ll eventually have some kitchen towels.