Workers at bygone factories to gather at local museum

WARRENSBURG - The Warrensburgh Historical Society is seeking former workers who were employed in the town's once numerous mills and factories.

The Society is planning to host an informal gathering of those workers, family members and the general public, for a reminiscence of times past. The event will be held at 3 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 24 at the Warrensburgh Museum of Local History on Main St.

Warrensburg has a rich history of manufacturing, at its peak employing well over 1,000 men and women in water-powered factories and mills that lined the Schroon River.

The jobs are gone, but some of those workers can still remember the hard work and long hours, but also the pride they felt in the product, whether it was a fine shirt or huge rolls of paper, Museum Director Steve Parisi said. There was also camaraderie among the workers, often with multiple generations of the same families working side by side, he said.

As one of them quipped, the Warrensburgh Historical Society is finally "putting its priorities in order" while there is still people to remember those days, mostly a half-century or more ago, when the wheels and gears were turning and the noon whistle meant something other than a reminder to check your watch, Parisi said. Younger members of the community are invited to eavesdrop on their conversations, he said. The event's format will be open to allow the participants to follow their own recollections. Questions from the audience will be encouraged.

Mother nature was generous to Warrensburg, Parisi said, providing a 70-foot drop in the Schroon River's elevation in the three-mile stretch of the river that bisects the town. The first mills were, sawmills in the late 18th century, followed by a grist mill built in 1824 which still stands, but with another function. Vestiges of the vast tannery, which closed in 1885, are gone - along with all of its employees. The woolen mill, noted for pants and coats, closed its doors in the mid-930s. The grist mill, pulp and paper mill and the shirt factory continued operations into the mid-20th century.

The gathering of workers is expected to last until 4:30 p.m. Following the program a special discount is being offered to attendees at Lizzie Keays Restaurant, located in the recently renovated former shirt factory building on River St. The memory of shirt factory workers, including Lizzie Keays, is honored by the restaurant.

The Warrensburgh Museum of Local History is located at 3754 Main St. Parking and a fully handicap accessible entrance are at the rear of the building. The program is free and all are welcome. For details, contact the Museum at 623-2928 or 623-2207.

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