Cedartown is known for the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, which produced tire materials and even rubber parade floats!
Established as part of Polk County in the late 1830s, Cedartown by the late 1880s city saw massive land sales that attracted industrialist like Charles Adamson. Adamson, Cedartown’s first factory owner, purchased land in the city and established a textile mill called the Cedartown Cotton Manufacturing Company in 1894. In 1897, the company expanded adding the Southern Extension Cotton Mill and an adjacent mill, the Paragon Mills. The Cedartown Cotton and Export Company ran for twenty years producing high-grade hosiery yard. The Cedartown Cotton and Export Company continued to operate its first and third mills into the 1930s.
To house mill employees, Adamson ordered 33 prefabricated mail-order “kit homes” from the Aladdin Company of Bay City, Michigan and had them assembled on site. The mill village included a playground, children’s nursery, and a mission school. Throughout the 1920s, Adamson continued to build new homes in Cedartown’s West End. Charles Adamson was instrumental in the early prosperity and development of Cedartown unfortunately, due to the advent of rayon wiping out his fortune; Adamson died a pauper in 1931.
Cedartown was also home to several yarn mills including Standard Cotton Mills, Wahneta Knitting Mills, the Josephine Mills, and more recently Gildan Incorporated’s yarn spinning facility, which is still in operation today. Standard Cotton Mills opened in 1900 and specialized in the manufacturing of high-grade hosiery, underwear, and yarns. Adding 6,000 more mule spindles to the original mill in 1901, the mill continued to expand during the next few years. In 1902, the Standard Cotton Mill built a second mill to manufacture lower grade cotton into coarser yarns. The addition of this second mill double the capacity of the Standard Cotton Mills.
Standard Cotton Mills ceased operation in 1931 and in 1935, it became the facility of the Uxbridge Worsted Company later known as the Bachman Uxbridge Company. In August 1960 Indian Head Mills Inc. purchased the mills, modernized, and expanded them. Unfortunately, profits slumped in 1963 due to increasingly cheaper foreign imports and the two Cedartown mills closed in 1964. Crown Textile Manufacturing then purchased the mills from Indian Head in May of that same year.
Crown did not put the mills into production and sold them to Hale Manufacturing Company, who purchased the mills to manufacture yarn for the carpet industry in Dalton, Georgia. Hale Manufacturing sold the plant to Polymer Corporation, one of its biggest customers, in 1988. Standard Cotton Mills is no longer standing but the smoke stack remains as a reminder of the once thriving cotton textile industry.
The Josephine Mills went into operation making cotton underwear in 1901. Built across the Blue Spring from the Wahneta Knitting mill, Josephine Mills also built homes for employees. Consolidated in January 1902, the Josephine and Wahneta Mills were renamed the Cedartown Knitting Company. The purchase of the Kuster Box Factory by the owners of Cedartown Knitting added to the mill complex. The Kuster Factory made paper boxes used to package the underwear made at the mills. With 126 of the most modern knitting machines, the capacity and output of the mills was about 500 dozen per day of knit underwear for women and children.
Updates to equipment at both mills in 1903, increased the output of the Wahneta Mill to 200 dozen children’s union suits per day. The Josephine mills output was increased to 750 dozen women’s underwear. A consolidation of the parent company lead to the closing of Cedartown Knitting Company. Used as a Sunday school, day and night school, and a mission home the Wahneta Mill building continued the benefit the community into 1907.
In 1916, F. D. Noble, the new owner of the Kuster Box Factory, also purchased the Josephine and Wahneta mills. In the early 1920s, Noble moved his manufacturing operations to Rome, Georgia. In 1923, the United States Dyeing and Finishing Company acquired the Josephine and Wahneta mills and the Blue Spring mill village. The Josephine mill building received an addition while demolition began on the Wahneta mill building. The former Kuster Manufacturing Company paper mill served as the cotton warehouse.
In 1902, the Cherokee Mills opened in Cedartown. Equipped with the best machinery, Cherokee Mills manufactured fine-grade men’s heavy knit underwear. The mill’s president was William Parker who was also general manager of Standard Cotton Mills. Heated by steam and lit by electricity Cherokee Mills was a modern mill for its time. Sold to Standard Mills in 1922, Cook Duck Mill became the new name of the Cherokee Mills. Utilizing twelve acres of land, the Standard Mills complex was an important industrial enterprise in northern Georgia.
In 1964, Arrow Company, a division of Cluett, Peabody & Co. Inc., opened a mill in Cedartown to make men’s and boy’s shirts. The Cedartown plant was originally designed to produce 4,000-4,200 dozen 100% cotton shirts per week but eventually produced 5,500 dozen shirts per week. The plant was in operation until it closed in 1995 due to slow sales with the rise of the casual dress in the workplace and increased competition from lower cost overseas textile imports.
By the early twentieth century, cotton mills began manufacturing tire cord and other textile products for the new automobile industry. These operations proved costly, leading owners to sell the mills to national companies. In 1925, Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company purchased the former the Paragon mills, its first mill in Georgia, to produce cotton cord and cloth for tires.
The Goodyear Clearwater Mill #1 added two additional buildings to the original mill building and 100 additional homes to the mill village. 288 homes were located in the mill village, providing housing for more than fifty percent of the plant employees.
Production at Goodyear Clearwater Mill #1 continued during World War II and African Americans in particular benefited briefly wartime labor shortages. Working longer hours and sometimes receiving pay increases, some companies hired African American workers to fill production lines, positions not previously available to them. These jobs disappeared after the war and did not return until after Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Goodyear mill closed in 1983, due to several causes including a decline in demand for tire fabric, increased production of smaller tires, and an increased use of steel belted radial tires. Destroyed by fire three years after closing, the mill complex is no longer standing. The mill village remains with both the original mill homes built by Adamson as well as those built later by Goodyear.
With a history steeped in cotton textile manufacturing, Cedartown still boast a modern manifestation of the industry. In July 1998, Harriet & Henderson Yarns Inc. broke ground on a new yarn spinning facility in Cedartown. In 24-hour operations by October of 1998, the plant supplied the yarn to sock knitters in the Ft. Payne, Alabama area. In 2003, Frontier Spinning Mills and Gildan Inc., in a joint venture, purchased the two yarn spinning facilities in Cedartown from Harriet & Henderson Yarns Inc., after the company declared bankruptcy. The facilities began operations as Cedartown Manufacturing LLC., spinning cotton yarn for t-Shirts and tank tops. Modernized and refurbished in October of 2012, when Gildan Inc. purchased 100% of the plant, the plant is still in operation in Cedartown.
Member Organizations on the Trail:
- Polk County Historical Society – The Society is headquartered in a beautiful building on College Street designed by noted Georgia architect Neel Reid. A grant from the state provided extensive renovations and made the building an ideal site for a museum, and in 1980 the building was placed on the National register of Historic Places, the first structure in Polk County to receive this honor.
What can you do?
- Polk County Historical Society — Located at 205 North College Street in Cedartown, the Polk County Historical has many photographs and artifacts from Goodyear’s history on display. The hours of operation are Wednesdays 1:30 to 4:00 pm, Thursday – Saturday 10:00 am to 2:00 pm.
- Cedartown Depot – Located at 609 South Main Street in Cedartown, the depot houses the town’s Welcome Center and also contains a railroad museum. Built in 2004, the Cedartown Depot is a replica of the original Seaboard Airline Railway depot which stood at the same location. The depot is also a Silver Comet trailhead. The Welcome Center is open Monday through Friday, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm; Saturday from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm and Sunday from 1:00 pm until 5:00 pm.
- Silver Comet Trail — The Silver Comet Trail is built on an abandoned rail line, once owned by Seaboard Airline Railroad. This historic rail line has been transformed into a walking/biking trail running through Cobb, Paulding, and Polk counties. Cedartown is right in the middle of of the trail making it a perfect location to see both sides of the trail.
What can you see?
- Goodyear Mill Village – Located at on West Avenue and Adamson St. near 2nd and 3rd Streets, the Goodyear mill village covered a radius of 25 city blocks and included a school which Goodyear maintained. Though the Goodyear mill is gone the mill village, with homes built by both Charles Adamson and Goodyear, is still there.
- Goodyear Park located just of West Avenue, the park was once home to the Wahneta Knitting Mill.
- Josephine Knitting Mills – Located at 701 Wissahickon Avenue, this mill is now home to GEO Chemical Corporation.
- Wayside Inn, located at 500 West Avenue in Cedartown, the Wayside Inn was built by Charles Adamson in 1920 as a 32-room “mill hotel.” This inn offered rooms for travelers and a fine restaurant. Using a kit ordered from the Aladdin Company of Bay City, Michigan, each piece of the building was individually cut and numbered and shipped by rail for on-site assembly. The building now houses a local supermarket and restaurant.
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