Most of the tannery businesses operated along the North River, and extended up toward Peabody, along the line of the water-course. By the mid 1850's, more than eighty tanning and currying shops were operating in the hollow and along both sides of the North River, employing about 500 workers. By 1885, that number had doubled.
The leather industry suffered a blow after a five-month strike that turned violent. The industry declined, and by 1920 most of the shops had closed, being victims of labor problems, competition from Mid-west companies and scarcity of bark mulch needed for tanning. The Salem fire of 1914 burned much of the blubber hollow area and beyond, which was another set-back for the industry.
For more see wiki entry Blubber Hollow
For photographs of children laboring in factories, see wiki entry Lewis Hine Photographs
- Historical Sketch of Salem by Osgood, p. 228-9
- The Peabody Story: Events in Peabody's History, 1626-1972 John A. Wells, p. 238-40