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No town exemplified the new manufacturing economy better than Lowell, Massachusetts, a planned textile mill town on the Merrimack River.

By 1850, Lowell's 40 mill buildings employed more than 10,000 workers, many of them girls as young as 15. Millworkers traded rural, seasonal agriculture work for life in a densely settled city, where mills ran year-round for an average of 12 hours a day, six days a week.

Lowell's Boott Cotton Mill opened in 1835. The 88 water-powered looms in its Weave Room still work today, creating a deafening clatter.

The Tsongas Industrial History Center in Lowell offers a "Cotton, Cloth and Conflict" curriculum packet that provides more information about the industrial North and the plantation South before the Civil War.

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