Explore the textile history of this “New South” mill community from denim-clothing to draperies.
Founded in 1899, the city of Aragon centered around the Aragon Mill, built by Wolcott and Campbell of New York Mills in 1898. The mill’s first products were denim-clothing items and later corduroy items. Serviced by two major rail lines, the Southern Railroad and the Seaboard Railroad, Aragon’s mill owners used the rail lines to ship their cotton textile products.
Mill owners also built mill village homes to house the mill workers and rent charges included electricity and water supplied by the mill. The company store sold wagons, groceries, dry goods, and even caskets and offered horse and wagon delivery service. In some instances, mill workers were paid with “loonies,” money that could only be spent at the company store.
A. D. Juilliard & Company purchased Aragon Mill in 1900 and a new section of the mill was added to house six pairs of spinning mules. In 1904, a second floor was added to the mill building to house the 56 duck C & K looms and the new twisters that replaced the old mule spinners. In 1939, another addition was made to the mill complex with a spinning room added in 1940, which also housed draper looms sent from the company’s mills in New York and Brookford.
In 1943, Aragon Mill celebrated receiving the Army-Navy E-Award by displaying patriotic bunting hung from the front office building. The award recognized a company’s continued production during wartime, making materials for the war effort, ensuring the quality and quantity of products, overcoming production obstacles, maintaining fair labor standards, training additional employees, and keeping good records for the health and safety of the workforce.
In 1953, Aragon Mill became the property of the United Merchants & Manufacturers Company of New York as part of a merger between Juilliard and United Merchants. Around this time, the homes in the mill village were sold to private individuals. Aragon Mill closed in mid-August 1970, due increasing competition from low cost textile imports from Japan.
The town of Aragon was granted a charter in 1914 however, due to the early success of the Aragon Mill, the charter was never activated. The mill supplied the town’s water, electrical power, and owned the town’s fire truck. The mill granted people credit at the company store when they needed it and supplied them with housing, garbage pickup, streetlights, security, and recreation. The closing of Aragon Mill meant that the town would have to activate its charter very quickly as the mill planned to shut down the water and power supplied to the town on November 1, 1970.
By October of 1970, the previous charter from the Georgia Legislature was still valid and Governor Maddox was able to swear in city officials. The town tackled water, garbage and trash collection, and streetlights first along with appointing a chief of police. With combined state and local assistance, the town quickly bounced back despite the closing of Aragon Mill.
Si Khan, an activist and folk musician, wrote a song entitled “Aragon Mills” about the closing of the mill and its impact on the community. The lyrics include the following “There’s no smoke at all comin’ out of the stack, for the mill has pulled out and they ain’t comin’ back.”
In 1972, Integrated Products based in Rome, Georgia purchased the old Aragon Mill complex to produce cotton yarn and operated it until 1989 when the company declared bankruptcy. The plant was later acquired in a leveraged buyout by David Bridges but retained its name and finally closed its doors on March 31, 1990.
In October 1990, Diamond Rug and Carpet, a Dalton Georgia company, purchased the plant and operated it until 1994. The plant remained empty until 1998 when brothers Brian and Kirk Spears purchased the mill and used it to produce pillows and wooden pallets until August 6, 2002, when fire destroyed the complex.
Member Organizations on the Trail:
What can you do?
- Aragon Historical Museum — Located at 105 New Prospect Road in Aragon this all volunteer historical society was formed in 2003. The museum is open on the first Saturday of each month from 10:00AM to 12:00PM and by appointment. For more information visit https://www.facebook.com/AragonHistoricalSociety/ or email firstname.lastname@example.org
What can you see?
The following properties are not open to the public, but you can view them from the exterior to learn more about the buildings that supported the textile industry here.
- Aragon Mills & Mill Village — The remains of Aragon Mill complex can be viewed at the intersection of Oak Street and Taylorsville Road. The mill village homes are located along Aragon Road near the Baptist church.
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