Thursday, July 01, 2010

Fine day for an outing, so went to Hagley

kw: photographs, museums

Today was the first Dollar Thursday at the Hagley Museum and Powder Yard, so I took the day off and my wife and I spent a nice afternoon along the Brandywine. Thursdays in July and August, admission is just $1. You may consider this a plug for them.

The powder mills, build throughout the 1800s, face the creek. The rock walls are three feet thick on three sides, but the roof and creek-facing wall were light wood construction, so if the gunpowder being milled or mixed were to explode, the force would be directed in a "safer" direction. From time to time a careless or unlucky worker would "cross the river".

There were few accidents, but one explosion in 1920, not in a mill but in a packing house, was felt as far as Philadelphia, 20 miles away. About 20 tons of powder went up in that one. It is the DuPont company's experience with powder making that underlies their strong commitment to safety. The company began winding down its explosives businesses after World War II, and sold the last one in the 1990s.

These old structures are just history now. Ferns grow in the mortar between the stones and mature trees are growing all around, where none would have been allowed when the mills were active. It makes for a somewhat unrealistic setting, but an enjoyable one.

No comments: