02 17 20 Oswego Museum

Historic Gray’s Mill in downtown Montgomery is one of the few reminders of the water-powered mills that once dotted the banks of the Fox River. This photo, taken about 1900 shows the mill at the west end of Montgomery’s covered bridge. At 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 29, historian and architect Michael Lambert will recount the “Early Industrial Development Along the Fox River” at the Little White School Museum, 72 Polk Street in Oswego. Admission to the program, suitable for those 16 and older, is $5. For more information, call the museum at 630-554-2999 or email info@littlewhiteschoolmuseum.org.

When pioneer farmers arrived in the Fox River Valley, with them came some of the area’s earliest business owners. And among those were the millwrights who built dams up and down the Fox River and the mills the dams powered.

At 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 29, at Oswego’s Little White School Museum, architect, planner and historian Michael Lambert will recount the history of that era and some of the effects from it that remain to this day.

The museum is located at 72 Polk Street, just two blocks from Oswego’s historic downtown business district.

Pioneer businessmen immediately understood the importance of the Fox River as a source of water power to run a variety of industries from Ottawa to Elgin, influencing early town planning and settlement patterns. In Aurora, the river powered cotton mills and in Yorkville, it powered a paper mill. In Oswego, a water-powered sawmill produced lumber and an adjacent furniture factory turned out everything from chairs to tables. And at almost every dam on the river, a grist mill ground wheat, rye, and corn into flour.

Lambert will guide attendees through the details of the Fox Valley’s earliest river-centered industrial development period, which lasted from 1825-1855. Those early pioneer manufactories were gradually replaced due to changing technology and, today, only remnants of the Fox Valley’s water-powered industrial roots survive.

Admission is $5. Pre-registration is recommended<https://apm.activecommunities.com/oswegolandparks/Activity_Search/early-industrial-development-along-the-fox-river/12811>, but walk-in registration the day of the program is welcome. The presentation, suitable for visitors aged 16 and above, will be hosted by the Oswegoland Heritage Association in partnership with the Oswegoland Park District.

For more information, call the museum at 630-554-2999, send an email to info@littlewhiteschoolmuseum.org<mailto:info@littlewhiteschoolmuseum.org>, or visit their web site at https://littlewhiteschoolmuseum.org.