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Virtual Field Trip: Working Mills and Mill Work

For much of the 19th and 20th centuries, New Hampshire was an industrial powerhouse. Many communities throughout the state had mills or factories, even small ones, and numerous New Hampshire cities boasted large mill complexes, with none as large as the Amoskeag Manufacturing Company in Manchester.

This virtual field trip visits Belknap Mill in Laconia and the Manchester Millyard Museum in Manchester.

A graphic organizer helps students record what they learn from the video, which, when combined with the activity, tackles the question: How did the mills change New Hampshire?

The video is 26 minutes.

The Big Question

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    How did the mills change New Hampshire?

Before You Take Your Virtual Field Trip . . .


Define “Industrial Revolution”

The development of mills in New Hampshire was part of a boom of technological innovation across the United States and Europe during the 1800s. Explore the Moose on the Loose Timeline to put this period in context and locate examples of these innovations including mills, railroads, and the telegraph.

Discuss the big question

Ask students what they know about mills. How do they think mills changed New Hampshire? Create a t-chart with one column for what a mill is and another column for how a mill impacts people. These ideas will be revisited after the virtual trip.

During Your Virtual Field Trip . . .

Organize facts and ideas

An optional graphic organizer is provided to help students identify and expand upon the three key ideas addressed during the trip. As they listen and watch, students can check off the key idea as they hear it mentioned. The chart below provides space for students to note supporting facts that relate to each idea. This graphic organizer could be used as part of a preview to the trip. It also works well as a review exercise after the trip and can be completed as a whole group or independently.

Travel Log

This graphic organizer helps students organize the information they learn in the virtual field trip.

After Your Virtual Field Trip . . .


Change a farm town to a mill city

Provide students with a copy of “Farm Town to Mill City.” Have the students look at the existing town and think of a good place to build a mill. Have them draw their mill, cut it out, and place it on the map. Then, have them draw and place three things that would need to be added to support the mill. Lastly, have them draw and place three things that might change after the mill was built. As a class, compare the different cities the students made. What do they have in common? What is different?

From Town to Mill City

Want To Do More?


Go further with these extension activities

Rivers and growing cities. New Hampshire was an ideal setting for the development of mills and industry because of its many rivers. This natural resource provided the initial power that ran the machinery inside the mills. But even after waterwheels were replaced by the power of steam and electricity, situating a mill along a river was an advantage for the cities and towns that grew around the factories. Examine the map “Manchester Millyard,” available in the Moose on the Loose Media Library for evidence of how a riverside mill grew into a city.

Working in a factory. The pace and type of work in New Hampshire mills changed a great deal about how people obtained goods, spent their time, and developed skills. The activities in Lesson11.2 “Bells and Conveyor Belts,” Unit 11: Industrial New Hampshire, use primary sources, literature, and simulations to give students a deeper understanding of how the growth of mills changed working life for people in New Hampshire.

The New Hampshire Historical Society thanks the following organizations for assisting in the making of this virtual field trip:

Belknap Mill

Manchester Historic Association’s Millyard Museum