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The Town of Clinton straddles the valley of the south branch of the Nashua River and is the site of the Wachusett Reservoir, formed by damming the river in 1905 to provide drinking water for the City of Boston. Clinton's terrain was partly shaped by retreating glaciers which created the present landscape. The town's abundant water power potential invited textile manufacturing, and a diverse ethnic population followed the creation of mill jobs. These included Irish, German, Scots and English immigrants who worked in the cotton and fabric mills and made combs. The invention of power looms brought young women from New Hampshire and Vermont to tend the looms. The town was incorporated in 1850 and was already a sizeable community with over 3,000 in population and the fourth largest manufacturing center in Worcester County. Clinton benefited greatly from the ability and ingenuity of the Bigelow brothers, who invented new kinds of power looms and set up profitable mills to house them. By 1850 five million yards of cloth was woven by 700 mill employees and in the following year an additional 2 million yards of lace, tweed and pant fabric was being turned out at the mills in Clinton. The Bigelows continued to refine their equipment, developing rug weaving looms and wire cloth looms. Ancillary industries sprang up in town, such as foundries and machine shops, to service the mills and companion factories for making clothing, shoes and boots were also established. Clinton became successively the state, national and world leader in the manufacture of carpets, cotton gingham and wire cloth and by 1885 was the largest carpet maker in the world. Not unexpectedly, there are also early records of labor movement activity in Clinton, which was the site of the notorious Lancester Mills strike in 1912 with its mass meetings, picketing and riots. The huge mills of the early 19th century still remain in use, housing a diverse group of manufacturing uses. (Seal supplied by community. Narrative based on information provided by the Massachusetts Historical Commission)
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