Colonial Ropemaking

Colonial Ropemaking (HM55Q)

Location: Bladensburg, MD 20710 Prince George's County
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Country: United States of America
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N 38° 56.081', W 76° 56.303'

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One of the maritime industries that was present in the colonial port of Bladensburg was the making of rope and various other types of cordage. In colonial and nineteenth century America, this activity took place in a manufacturing facility known as a ropewalk. A ropewalk was an extremely long and narrow building, in which rope was made. Workers walked the length of the building in the course of laying down strands of rope.

The following advertisement, promoting the ropewalk of prominent merchant and town founder Christopher Lowndes, appeared in the June 26, 1755, issue of the Maryland Gazette newspaper:

To Be Sold by the Subscriber, at his Rope-Walk in Bladensburg, All Sorts of Cables, standing and running Rigging of every Sort and Size; also Spun-Yarn, Marline, Housing, Amber-line, deep See-Lines, Log-Lines, Lead-Lines, and any Kind of Rope that can be made of Hemp; likewise Sail-Twine, Whipping Twine, Seine-Twine, Drum Lines, &c. Any person wanting a Quantity, not under Five Ton, shall have it delivered at their Landing on this Bay, at the same Price it sells for at the Walk; and all Orders shall be strictly observed, both as to Size and Length. - Christopher Lowndes

A portion of the Plymouth Cordage Company, a ropewalk similar to the one that existed in Bladensburg, in on exhibit at Mystic Seaport - The Museum of America and the Sea - in Mystic, Connecticut. The original building, which measured 1,050 feet in length, was built in Plymouth, Massachusetts, in 1824.

Text with upper-right illustration: Plate 476, entitled "Ropemaking II," from Diderot's Eighteenth Century Encyclopedia of Trades and Industry

Text with middle-right illustration: Spinning loft, at Mystic Seaport, where raw fibers were twisted into yarn.

Text with middle photo: Front view of the Plymouth Cordage Company ropewalk rebuilt at Mystic Seaport in Mystic, Connecticut.

Text with lower-right photo: Side view of the Plymouth Cordage Company ropewalk being rebuilt in 1951 for Mystic Seaport.
HM NumberHM55Q
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Saturday, October 11th, 2014 at 7:54pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18S E 331990 N 4311314
Decimal Degrees38.93468333, -76.93838333
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 38° 56.081', W 76° 56.303'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds38° 56' 4.86" N, 76° 56' 18.18" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)301
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 4601 Anacostia Tributary Trail System, Bladensburg MD 20710, US
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