Thistle Manufacturing Company factory was a historic factory located along the Patapsco River, which runs through Catonsville, Maryland across from Ilchester, Maryland. The 1800s factory was in continuous operation until 2003.
The factory resided at 201 River Road in Catonsville, Maryland, on 106 acres of land in both Baltimore County and Howard County along the Patapsco river on River road. The site was known as the "Thistle Factory" or "Thistle Cotton Mill". Alexander Fridge, George and William Morris founded the Thistle Manufacturing Company in 1824 with the purchase of the property from the Ellicott brothers. The Ellicotts stipulated that the new factory as well as the Dismal Mill downstream would not operate as a competing flour mill, and in turn, the Ellicott's could not sell liquor on their land, Ellicott's Mills. In 1825 Fridge had sold his assets and the Morris brothers petitioned to build a road from the Thistle factory to the turnpike followed in 1832 with a state appropriation of $600 to build a bridge across the Patapsco at Thistle Mills. In 1837 they built a cotton mill and silk production facility on property purchased from the Ellicott brothers. The 100 employee mill building was built of locally quarried stone along with at least five stone buildings to support laborers and a general store. The company expanded production with the purchase of the Ilchester flour mill in 1882, but lost the facility in receivership in 1892. In 1895, the current owner and operator of the mill W.H. Kerr drowned when attempting to rescue his son who fell off his yacht in Annapolis. In 1919 Edward A.A. Blakeney purchased the plant for cotton duck production, and electrified operations in 1925, but shifted to tire fabric manufacturing.