To take advantage of prevailing northwesterly winds, the majority of Frederick's industry was placed here in the southeast sector of the city. Odiferous operations such as canneries, tanneries and mills could be found in this area as early as the 1700's. Factory waste and runoff littered Carroll Creek and the air was often filled with exhaust from locomotives and smokestacks. One more sense to consider was the ambient sound of the place! All in all, this area was a "symphony for the senses." The old industries with their smoke and stench are gone, but structures such as the former Mountain City Mill have been renovated for commercial, non-profit and public use.
Frederick had several tanneries in operation along Carroll Creek. The most successful was the Birely Tannery. Established around 1820, it was in operation for over 150 years. Raw hides were soaked in a mixture of lime and water to loosen the hair, then scraped clean in a process called "beaming." After soaking again for several months in a water and ground bark solution, the hides were dried, cleaned and oiled. Tanneries supported other town businesses as well, such as saddlers, cobblers and other leatherworkers.