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Provo’s Early Carding Mill and Machine Shop Were Vital to the City.

Shadrack Holdaway and his wife, Lucinda, arrived in Provo on the last day of 1850.  They brought with them an unassembled wood carding mill they had bought in the Midwest with gold dust they had accumulated in California during the gold rush.

They came to Provo because Lucinda’s family lived here, and because the Provo River provided ample water to run the mill.  Early in 1851, Holdaway build a cabin north of the river at the foot of the bench and set up his carding mill, a shingle mill and a machine shop.  He later added some new machinery and started weaving cloth.

When the Walker War began with the Utes in 1853, Brigham Young ordered all people living outside of town to move into the settlements.  Holdaway moved his business about a mile south to what is north the northwest corner of the intersection of Center Street and 500 West.  A large ditch running down the west side of the street provided power.

Holdaway opened Provo Woolen Factory during the spring of 1854.  The new business did carding, weaving and spinning. That tear the factory and the woman of Provo put their carded wool to good use.  They wove 3,500 yards of cloth.

Shadrack Holdaway and James Simkins opened the Provo Machine Shop on the same site.  They did blacksmithing and made spare parts for machinery.  The partners even manufactured a threshing machine.  Holdaway’s carding mill closed about 1870, but different foundries existed on the site until the 1950s.

This is plaque #11 in the Series of Events from Provo’s History and is located in Maeser Park in Provo.

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