Known for its Civil War history, this community had textile companies too!

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Intersection of Jays Mill with Brotherton Road. Photo courtesy: Library of Congress

Daniel Ashley Jewell, a New England native, purchased land in Chickamauga in 1907 to relocate the textile business that he had previously started in Jewell, Georgia. Jewell saw the potential for a textile mill in Chickamauga. Envisioning that Crawfish and Crystal Springs could provide power for the mill, Jewell quickly began developing local infrastructures within Walker County.  The Georgia Central Railroad, established here in 1888, could easily ship out mill products.

Partnering with W.L.L. Bowen, Jewell established the Crystal Springs Bleachery in Chickamauga in 1909.  The company produced and bleached bag goods. By the early 1920s, its 350 workers made over 100,000 yards each day. Crystal Springs Bleachery management was kept within the Jewell family. In 1967 Thomas Wall Jewell, the youngest child of Daniel Ashley Jewell, became treasurer of the company.

The shift in American manufacturing to overseas markets after World War II placed pressure on textile manufacturing companies in Georgia and the textile industry in Chickamauga was no exception. In the years following World War II, Crystal Springs Bleachery was sold and changed names several times. Dan River Mills bought the company in 1969.

After public outcry that the mill would be closed, three local entrepreneurs Frank Pierce, Stanley Cunningham, and Steve Travin purchased the mill from Dan River. This eased fears in Chickamauga that the mill, then Chickamauga’s largest employer, would shut down. This effort was short lived.  After employing over 1,000 people in the mid-1970s, Crystal Springs Print Works eventually closed in 2013, and the mill was torn down in 2014.

What can you do?

  • Crawfish Springs- See the spring that helped power the Crystal Springs Bleachery. Crawfish Springs provides a beautiful park and recreation area in Chickamauga. The park includes two gazebos, picnic areas, and a train bridge that park visitors may walk over.  
  • Walker County Regional Heritage/Train Museum- Located in the historic Chickamauga depot, the Walker County Regional Heritage and Train Museum allows museum visitors to view artifacts relating to the history of Walker County. Please visit http://www.exploregeorgia.org/listing/4977-walker-county-regional-heritage-museumtrain-museum for details about admission and museum hours. 

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