HARMONY — The owners of historic Bartlettyarns in Harmony have been invited to join President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, members of the administration and White House staff for a Made in America Product Showcase Monday on the South Lawn and State Floor at the White House.

Owners Lindsey and Susan Rice, from Rochester, New Hampshire, will represent Maine in the event, Susan Rice said in an email. She noted that Bartlettyarns is almost as old as the state of Maine as the company looks to its 200th year spinning wool on the banks on Higgins Brook in this rural Somerset County town.

“Lindsey and I are excited for Bartlettyarns and representing the state of Maine for this honor,” Susan Rice said. “We enjoy working with our customers, retail and wholesale, but also with our American fiber producers for our custom processing services. To represent our industry both in agriculture and manufacturing is an honor.”

President Trump will host companies from across the country to celebrate and highlight each state’s effort and commitment to American-made goods. Businesses from each of the 50 states have been invited to display their products made and produced in the United States. Bartlettyarns plans to showcase American-made wool yarns, rovings and knitwear during the event.

Bartlettyarns is the last spinning mill in the United States still using a spinning “mule.”

The 150-foot-long spinning mule races back and forth on steel wheels and thin rails like a small railroad train. Built in 1948, the mule spins 240 bobbins of wool into yarn and it’s the last of its kind in the United States.

The textile mill has been in operation on the same spot since 1821, powered first by a water wheel that was replaced by a water turbine and then finally converted to electricity.

“In 1920, the original building burned and was replaced with the building that you see today in 1921,” Lindsey Rice said in January 2016. “For its day, it was very modern — a lot of windows, metal clad siding, metal roof making it fire resistant.”

One of the machines inside the mill — a round rover — dates back to the 1880s, and most of the iron and wood equipment has been in use since the early 1900s. The Rice family bought the place in 2007 from Russell Pierce, who had owned it for 24 years.

The wooden floors are shiny and bright from decades of lanolin from the wool and machine oil from the equipment, like a working museum. Stairs, beams, spools, even a bobbin holder all are made of wood.

Seven people are employed inside the old factory and one more at the reception desk in the main office and retail shop across the street from the mill.

Lindsey Rice said raw wool is bought from sheep farmers all over the Northeast, including North Star Sheep Farm, which has 3,500 sheep in Windham.

The wool is delivered to the mill receiving shed on Water Street in Harmony and shipped off to South Carolina to be commercially washed, then dyed in Philadelphia and returned to Maine to be made into yarn.

Susan Rice said the company is committed to using only wool and other natural fibers that are raised in the U.S.

The Rices will hold their annual open house and free tours this year Aug. 3-4 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the mill on Water Street in Harmony. Old machinery, including one piece called a duster installed in 1935, which tumbles the wool to loosen it up, and another called a picker, which teases and opens up the fiber, sit in the basement and are the first stops on the way to making yarn.

The upper two floors of the old mill hold a collection of perfectly working antique machinery, including a “carding” machine made in Boston in 1919 and a 1928 twister. Some of the equipment still uses leather belts to run the machines with steel cog wheels and ancient metal weights.

“We’re not a museum — we’re a production mill,” Lindsey Rice said in 2016.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter:@Doug_Harlow

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