I am also hearing that Raritan Woolen Mill (where a good amount of the Civil War uniforms and World War I ones, for that matter, were made) is now totally razed. My family has a connection to the Catholic Church right nearby, and so as a kid I always wondered about that place—which by then had been taken over by Middlesex Chemical Co.(?).

I had a great-great uncle in Raritan who worked there in the 1910’s. He died of tuberculosis in 1922.

I am in a way happy that the factory, which became an eyesore, was finally torn down. However, in another way I am sad that a part of history went, too.

In other places, factories like the Raritan Woolen Mill become part of the “historical fabric” (pun intended) of a locality. They restore the historic site to its original condition, and run tours, teaching people about history.

The United States’ early industrial era probably is not much of a draw, compared to, say, the Revolution. The Raritan Public Library is in a historic house, and of course the Wallace House and Old Dutch Parsonage right across Route 206. Those houses attract the tourists and curiosity seekers—-and yes, it would be hard for a factory to compete. Maybe in Patterson, but not here.

It is a shame, though, because industry was a significant part of New Jersey life, and a major reason the late 19th century immigrants came to this country from the Old World. Once it’s sprawling office parks, condos, six-lane highways, will any of that older history be clear?

Hopefully the new will recall the old, without the blight that Raritan ended up putting up with for at least the last 50 years . . .