The city of Adairsville was Cherokee land until the 1830s. The small, Oothcalooga Village, was later developed into a small industrial town in 1836 through the purchase of a Cherokee Land lottery and the “Trail of Tears”. The town was incorporated almost twenty years later in 1854. Adairsville benefited from great location as the city was halfway between Chattanooga and Atlanta, but also directly on the Western and Atlantic Railroad. The easy access to travel corridors – the railroad and eventually the interstate system – made Adairsville an inviting choice for industry.
The development of the textile industry in the region began with the establishment of the Oothcalooga Cotton Mill, in 1872. Operating for twelve years and employing 70 people, the mill housed 2,000 spindles, consumed about 20 bales of cotton weekly, and produced nearly 4,000 yards of blue denim daily.
After World War II, the boll weevil epidemic began to destroy Adairsville’s cotton-based economy. The devastation of the epidemic encouraged many citizens to start making hand-tufted bedspreads. H.C. McCutchen, a downtown merchant in Adairsville, sold unbleached sheeting and tufting to the local citizens. The locals, who became known as haulers, took stamped-patterned sheeting and thread to the rural areas surrounding Adairsville to be tufted by hand.
Tufters living along U.S. Highway 41 worked out of their homes and hung wire lines to spread out their chenille peacock design bedspreads and bathrobes to sell. Soon nicknamed ‘Peacock Alley’ after the common design of the chenille bedspreads, Highway U.S. 41 soon became widely known for its “spread lines.” As technology advanced with textiles and automobiles, this stretch of paved highway soon was known as the “Dixie Highway” as the travel route was used by tourists heading south to Florida.
Adairsville continues to thrive and prosper, encouraging economic development while preserving its unique historical legacy. Keeping the hand-tufted tradition alive, Adairsville continues to host an annual three-day 90-mile Dixie Highway Yard Sale, the first weekend of June each year.
What can you do?
- Adairsville Rail Depot — The museum, right downtown, tells the story of the chenille bedspread industry and even has a few chenille bedspreads on display. In the Spring of 2017, Dr. Jennifer Dickey supervised a class-curation of the Rail Depot for Kennesaw State students.
- Barnsley Gardens Resort — Located 5 miles from downtown Adairsville, this historic home and gardens property is now a popular resort and Bed & Breakfast.
What can you see?
- Historic Downtown Adairsville — Adairsville was the first city in Georgia to be placed, in entirety, on the National Register of Historic Places.