In 1909, Echota Cotton Mill opened in Calhoun becoming the most modern manufacturing plant of its kind. The mill produced sheeting in 1910, adding coarse yarns by the early 1920’s. Citizens from all over Gordon County came to work at the mill. Due to the need for labor, employment at the mill grew from 65 to 110 employees. Construction of a mill village including a company store began in the early 1920s with the addition of a schoolhouse in 1924. The mill employees organized Echota Baptist Church, built by mill owners, that same year. The mill continued to grow and expand during the 1930s. Converting raw cotton into top quality sheeting and corduroy with machines powered by coal-fired steam boilers, Echota Mills catered to both national and international markets.
Purchased by Mount Vernon Mills Inc. in 1970, by 1979 the mill consumed 7 million pounds of raw cotton with a payroll of $3 million. Experiencing various expansions, changes, and improvements throughout its history, Echota Mills evolved from steam power to individual electrical drives. The mill began to decline facing increasing competition from cheaper foreign imports and closed in 1985. All that remains of Echota Cotton Mill is the red brick smokestack.
As chenille bedspreads became popular in the 1920s and 1930s, companies moved the production of spreads from homes and spread houses into small factories, such as Mount Alto Bedspread Company in Calhoun. Thought to be one of the first modern tufting factories in the area, the Mount Alto Bedspread Company, began producing chenille bedspreads in 1938. Later renamed Velvetone and Forrest Mills, West Point Manufacturing Co. purchased the mills in 1962. In late 1987, Shaw Industries became the world’s largest carpet maker by purchasing the carpet business of West Point-Pepperell. Shaw Industries continues to be one of the largest floor manufacturers in the United States though their Calhoun yarn spinning plant closed in 2009.
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