A Brief History of West Concord Industry
West Concord industries and the people whose entrepreneurship, innovation, labor, persistence, and resilience built them have profoundly shaped our village’s economy, population, and culture throughout its history.
Native American Manufacturing
The Concord area has been inhabited for more than 10,000 years by Native American people who established the village of Musketaquid here, according to the Concord Free Public Library’s Brief History of Concord, Throughout this time they produced a wide variety of objects. For these millennia, Native people would “collect fresh-water clams, make tools, cut with axes, hunt game with spears, grind food with stone pestles, and cook with soapstone pots” as well as “make weirs to catch fish in brooks” and “make dug-out canoes.”
Beginnings of European Settlement in the 17th and 18th Centuries
West Concord began to be settled in the mid-17th century as part of the Second Division of land. Almost immediately, landowners began to build mills using the brooks and river. George Hayward built a sawmill in 1644 on Hayward’s Pond that was later followed by a corn mill. Near the site of the Damon Mill, the Concord Ironworks was incorporated in 1658 by a group of investors. It dug and forged peat bog iron ore. Later a grist and fulling mill was operated on the same site run by Lot Conant and his descendants. Another fulling and saw mill was established by Ed Wright before 1700 along the Nashoba Brook.
West Concord Industry in the 19th and Early 20th Centuries
West Concord really began to develop in the early 19th century as three villages grew up around mills and factories. Westvale (also known as Factory Village and Damondale) at the Damon Mill site was the first in the first half of the 19th century. In the mid-nineteenth century, Warnerville (also known as Concord Junction) grew up around the Warner Pail and Tub Factory and the junction of the railroads. Finally, Prison Village (also known as Reformatory), developed around housing for those employed in the Reformatory in the later 19th century. These three neighborhoods later merged to become West Concord.
West Concord’s first railroad was the Fitchburg Railroad which had a station near the Damon Mill. The coming of the Framingham & Lowell, Middlesex Central, and the Acton, Nashua, and Boston branch of the Concord, New Haven and Montreal lines in the 1870s significantly contributed to the growth of industry due to the ability to move freight easily in and out of the village. At the height of railroad traffic, 120 trains came through Concord Junction each day.