Historians who focus on the development of nineteenth century New England textile mills generally place them in either of two categories. The first, referred to as the Rhode Island system, tended to be small, water-power dependent, family-owned, and located in villages and towns. The mills located in communities along the Quinebaug River in Massachusetts and Connecticut and the Blackstone River in Massachusetts and Rhode Island exemplify this system. The second category is most often called the Waltham or Lowell system. Large-scale, steam-powered, corporately-owned and located in larger cities, these mills could be found in Waltham, Lowell, Lawrence, Chicopee, and Holyoke, among other places.
John R. Mullin. "Development of the Assabet Mills in 19th Century Maynard" Historical Journal of Massachusetts
Vol. Vol 20 Iss. No 1 (1992)
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/john_mullin/23/