ARCHEOLOGISTS EXCAVATE ALLIED TEXTILE PRINTING SITE AT GREAT FALLS IN PATERSON
(10/P44) TRENTON -Archeologists are working with the Department of Environmental Protection to uncover two centuries of the industrial past of the city of Paterson, as envisioned by Alexander Hamilton, one of the most influential of the nation’s Founding Fathers and the first U.S. Secretary of the Treasury.
URS Corporation and Hunter Research Inc., archaeologists managed by Farewell Mills Gatch Architects, are assisting the DEP, city of Paterson and the National Park Service in the excavation of the Allied Textile Printing (ATP) site in the Great Falls Historic District in Paterson.
Starting this month, archaeologists are working to uncover two centuries of the ATP site’s industrial past.
“It was Alexander Hamilton’s idea to establish the Society for Useful Manufactures to create the first planned industrial development in America, powered by the Great Falls in Paterson,’’ said Dan Saunders, Acting Administrator of the New Jersey Historic Preservation Office. “We are honored to work with the National Park Service and Paterson to undertake the first in-depth cultural resources survey of this nationally significant site.’’
In the 1790s, Hamilton envisioned the south bank of the Passaic River as the home of this industrial development. The 7.5-acre ATP site lies at the heart of early industrial Paterson.
It is a brownfields landscape that has been drastically altered by two centuries of intense human activity. Today, it is hard to imagine that the ruined buildings and gaping cellar holes now covered by heavy vegetation were an industrial jewel that employed many hundreds of people.
Broken walls and crumbling smoke stacks are the above-ground remains of the ATP site that also includes artifacts, buried foundations, raceway channels that moved water to power the mills throughout the site, and open pits that housed water powered wheels and turbines that ran the machinery.
Of special interest within the ATP site is the mill built to manufacture the first Colt revolvers. The ruins of the 1836 Colt Gun mill are built on the site of an earlier 1813 mill that produced iron tools and nails. The excavations here might reveal important information about this earlier period of industrial development in Paterson of which there is little known.
The ATP site is eligible for federal and state grants for restoration and improvements in advance of the development of the Paterson Great Falls National Historic Park, which was officially designated in March 2009. Some federal money has been channeled to the DEP, which allocated about $1 million for the current Paterson project.
Excavations are ongoing this month with archaeologists available at designated times on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays through June 3 at Overlook Park in Paterson, near the McBride Street extension, to explain the project and answer questions. They will hold sessions on Tuesdays, noon to 1 p.m.; Thursdays, 2-3 p.m.; and Saturdays noon to 1 p.m.
For additional information about the history of the ATP site and the “ATP Meet the Archaeologists” schedule call (973) 435-3896.