Mohawk Carpet Mills / 
McCleary, Wallin and Crouse Mills

Amsterdam, New York

Weave mill and warehouse.

Set back from the city of Amsterdam and not noticed by travelers on the New York State Thruway is this mill site, or what's left of it - several large buildings were demolished at the end of the 2000's. Although identified variously on the internet as the "Mohasco Mills" or maybe the Mohawk Mills, it was the McCleary, Wallin and Crouse Rug and Carpet company that was one of the earliest, if not the first, major manufacturer to occupy this site. 

The company is identified on the 1911 Sanborn Insurance map. As the industry expanded and competition grew, directors sought new ways to gain higher profits, and many firms merged. The Mohawk name belonged to one of the larger conglomerates, and formed in 1920 when the Shuttleworth Brothers Company merged with McCleary, Wallin and Crouse. The Mohawk named appeared at this site on the 1926 insurance map. 

Sanborn Insurance Company map, 1911.

Sanborn Insurance Company map, 1926. The power plant, warehouse and weave mill survive today.

By mid-century, the Mohasco name was introduced following Mohawk's merger with downstate Alexander Smith. It is that name that Amsterdammers remember these mills by. However much of an imprint Mohasco left on the collective memory of the city, the company itself didn't last very long here. The carpet  makers were courted by Southern states offering new factory buildings and financial incentives to relocate (first Sanford in 1955, and Mohawk by the end of the 1960s), and Amsterdam and Yonkers found themselves with vast amounts of available commercial real estate. Not of consolation to Amsterdam, the Mohawk name still lives on  following numerous mergers, moves, and reorganizations..

Like the Sanford mill downtown, which was occupied by toy-maker Coleco in the early 1980s, the McCleary & Co. mill was taken over by the Esquire Novelty in the latter half of the 20th-century. Esquire's specialty was toy guns. The company moved to Amsterdam in 1968, and left for (no surprise here) China around the end of 2000. Just two years earlier Esquire earned 20 million dollars in sales and renovated the factory partly funded by a New York State grant to help the firm stay competitive and stay local. But even such incentives are no match for the savings a company can accumulate by paying some kid in China ridiculously cheap wages to make ridiculously cheap toys for kids in the United States.

I am sorry that I missed the Mohawk/McCleary & Co. mill site when I first set foot in Amsterdam in 2006. It was largely intact though
some fires broke out in the early 1990s. The mill is well-documented; numerous photographs appear on the internet, including the Urban Exploration Database. Although surely interesting, mill buildings like these are generally emptied and devoid of any all all machinery that might indicate what once was made here. The machines may have been broken down and sold for scrap, or purchased at auction piecemeal by smaller manufacturers. I didn't get inside the mill proper, but the mill's power plant however, was very interesting and a lot of fun to photograph.

These photographs were taken March, 2011.

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