Tag Archives: Georgia Industrial Sites

Cotton Mill, Forsyth

This old brick mill building, with its distinctive towers, is located just beside I-75 north of Forsyth. It was a landmark on trips to and from Atlanta when I was a child. It’s an old cotton mill, perhaps the Brighton Mill, but was later part of Bibb Manufacturing Company, which built a modern mill behind it sometime after World War II. Today, it’s home to a discount furniture business. I will update when I learn more about the history.

Augusta Canal Headgates, 1840s & 1870s, Columbia County

Augusta Canal gatehouse, headgates, and locks.

Henry Harford Cumming envisioned Augusta as the “Lowell of the South” [in reference to the textile hub in Massachusetts] and was the driving force behind the Augusta Canal. The first nine-mile section was completed between 1845-1846, and within a couple of years three mills had already been risen along the waterway. Built near the end of the Canal Era [roughly 1800-1850], it was amazingly successful, as most Southern canals never were, and is the only intact industrial canal still in use in the South today. It was lengthened and enlarged between 1872-1877. It was after this expansion that most of the mills associated with Augusta’s industrial heritage were constructed. These included the Enterprise, Blanche, Sibley, and King Mills. I believe the present gatehouse dates to the expansion period in the 1870s.

Diversion Dam and Savannah River Rapids

A V-shaped dam diverts the Savannah River at the headgates and below it are what is now known as the Savannah Rapids. It is a popular recreation area and a very picturesque location.

Augusta Canal just below the headgates

Along the walkway at the gatehouse you’ll notice hundreds, if not thousands, of modern padlocks. These have been left behind by visitors over the years, as a tongue-in-cheek tribute to the place. I’m not sure when the tradition started, but it has definitely caught on.

Augusta Canal Industrial District, National Register of Historic Places + National Historic Landmark + Augusta Canal National Heritage Area

Industrial Ruins, Stilesboro

Lowry Grist Mill Ruins, Euharlee

Euharlee was originally known as Burge’s  Mill, for the grist mill Nathaniel Burge operated on Euharlee Creek. The earlier mill burned around 1880 and was rebuilt by Daniel Lowry. Sections of the foundation are likely remnants of the original antebellum mill. A plan to rebuild the mill has been proposed, but I’m unsure of its status at this time.

Lindale Mill, 1896, Floyd County

Massachusetts Cotton Mill of Lowell, Massachusetts, opened this mill in 1896, and with 42,000 spindles and 1400 looms, it soon became one of the largest mills in the state. 75 multi-family houses were built to house workers and a free elementary school was also provided. The mill doubled in size in 1903 and continued to add employees. In 1926, it was purchased by the Peperrell Manufacturing Company.

During the Depression, employees built a huge lighted wooden star and strung it between the smokestacks at Christmastime. It has remained a tradition ever since. The mill played an integral role in clothing the military during World War II and remained an integral part of the local economy and community until it closed in 2001.

Today, the property features a wedding venue and has been used by the movie industry as a set location.

Mill Smokestack, 1898, Aragon

Aragon Mill was established in 1898 by Wolcott & Campbell of New York and the community bearing its name was linked inextricably to the fortunes of the business. It was purchased by Augustus Julliard in 1900 and saw numerous improvements and significant expansion during his ownership. It became a United Merchants Mill in the 1930s and shut down in 1970. Several efforts to revive the mill were made over the next three decades but most of the complex was lost to fire on 6 August 2002. The smokestack, bearing the name Aragon, is the most significant remaining relic of the mill.

The American labor and social activist Si Kahn penned a song about the loss of mill village culture entitled “Aragon Mill” in the early 1970s.

Stevens Pottery Ruins, Baldwin County

Anne Chamlee made these photographs of the abandoned Stevens Pottery mill in August 1990. The rural community was named for the industry that was the largest employer in Baldwin County in the years following the Civil War.

Bill Boyd wrote in the 13 August 1992 edition of the Macon Telegraph: Henry Stevens, who grew up near pottery plants in England, worked his way to America aboard a merchant ship, landed a job as a railroad conductor and arrived in Middle Georgia in 1850. An ambitious and enterprising fellow, Stevens bought a sizable tract of timber land in the southwest corner of Baldwin County in 1854, and he discovered  “an extensive and valuable deposit of fire-clay” according to an 1895 book “Memories of Georgia”.

After putting a sawmill into operation in that area, he built kilns and began to produce the first sewerage pipe ever produced in the South. The plant also turned out pottery and stoneware. During the Civil War, Stevens’s plant produced “knives, shoepegs and Joe Brown pipes” for the confederacy according to the history book. And, because of that General William T. Sherman burned the plant to the ground in 1864. Stevens rebuilt the plant after the war and sold it to his sons in 1876. By the turn of the century, the Stevens plant employed some 300 people and produced only brick.

The late T. L. Wood recalled in a 1984 interview with the Associated Press that Stevens Pottery acquired a reputation as a rough-and-tumble town where shootings and stabbings were commonplace at night and on weekends. “My mother wouldn’t let me go down there when I was a kid.” he said. But when he grew up, Wood, like many residents of Stevens Pottery and Coopers worked there for at least a while, and he remembered the plant as a “dirty, dusty, crude-looking place, (where) the work was hard- hauling brick in wheelbarrows and things like that.” Wood escaped the hard labor in the plant by operating a general store; and getting the town’s post office located in his store. But others stayed with the hard work and long hours, and as late as the 1950s, a person could work all of the overtime he or she wanted as the plant turned out brick for the booming sugar refineries in Cuba.

ARCO Administration Building, Circa 1919, Brunswick

This was the main office of the Atlantic Refining Company/Atlantic Richfield Company (ARCO), which operated an oil refinery in Brunswick from 1919-1935. it was one of the largest employers in Brunswick and built an entire village to support its operations, albeit a segregated one. Subsequent owners of the property were Georgia Power, Dixie Paint, and two chemical companies, and years of unchecked pollution led to the classification of much of the property as a Superfund site. Honeywell, the present owners, are involved in ongoing cleanup and reclamation of the property and surrounding estuary.

Abandoned Gable Front Cottage, 1930s, Brunswick

Dundee Mills, Griffin

This is but one section of the large complex best remembered as Dundee Mills, which began operations in Griffin in the 1880s and was still in business into the present century.