Explore the “Carpet Center of the World,” and while you’re here, discover Dalton’s rich history in cotton and hosiery as well as “Bedspread Boulevard,” where the chenille industry began!
Crown Cotton Mill opened in Dalton in 1884 to produce duck and osnaburgs. The first large-scale cotton mill in this part of the state, by 1910, the company employed 650 workers, many of whom lived in mill village housing surrounding the brick mill. Crown Mill merged with Massachusetts-based West Boylston Manufacturing Company in 1925 to open Boylston Crown Mill in southeast Dalton.
Dalton is also considered the birthplace of the chenille industry. Catherine Evans Whitener began making and then selling hand-tufted bedspreads at the turn of the twentieth century. Her work was part of the handicraft revival blossoming in the southern Appalachian region at the time. Whitener and other local women used tufted yarn to create patterns on plain cotton sheets. North Georgia women began to sell bedspreads and other tufted products to tourists traveling to Florida along U.S. Highway 41, part of the Dixie Highway.
Also contributing to the burgeoning textile industry in this northwest Georgia city was the Westcott Mills, founded by Lamar Westcott in 1917. A Chattanooga native, Wescott studied yarns at the Philadelphia Textile Institution.
Westcott became a leader in the chenille industry by patenting a needlepunch, which sped up the process of machine tufting and produced more intricate designs than single-needle tufting machines. Westcott used the needlepunch to bring the production of chenille bedspreads into the Cabin Crafts factory he helped found in Dalton around 1931. This new tool revolutionized both the chenille and later carpet industries that developed in northwest Georgia.
Carpet production grew dramatically in this region from the 1950s onward with the rise of new technologies and factories. By the 1970s, the majority of the carpet companies in the United States were located around Dalton. Now, three of the four leading carpet companies in the country are based in Dalton: Shaw, Mohawk, and Beaulieu.
Member Organizations on the Trail:
- Bandy Heritage Center for Northwest Georgia
- Carpet and Rug Institute
- Dalton Area Convention & Visitors Bureau
- Prater’s Mill
- Whitfield-Murray Historical Society
What can you do?
- “Tufts of the Past”— Follow this Driving Tour to see historic sites connected with Dalton’s rich textile history. The brochure is available at the Dalton CVB, or you can download it here.
- Hamilton House — Visit this historic home, which features local chenille products and interprets textile industry history.
- Crown Gardens and Archives — Visit the historic office building for the Crowne Mills, where you can also do research on local textile history.
- Prater’s Mill — Enjoy a historic grist mill community which features an excellent collection of locally-produced chenille.
- Dalton Freight Depot Visitors Bureau — Experience one of the historic buildings that once facilitated the textile trade, and enjoy a view of several historic textile buildings nearby. Here, you can pick up your Driving Trail brochure or get more information on the City.
- Bandy Heritage Center of Northwest Georgia — Explore archival records on the chenille and carpet industry at Dalton State University!
- Shaw Industries Research and Development Facility — Tours by appointment only.
What can you see?
Many of the buildings which housed or were associated with this city’s textile industry still remain throughout the City. Take your own tour to visit these sites, but remember these are exterior views only:
- Crown Mill village — Walk or drive around the mill village for Crown Mill, located adjacent to the Hamilton House and the Crown Gardens and Archives.
- U.S. Highway 41, known as Bedspread Boulevard or Peacock Alley — Look for buildings associated with the carpet and chenille industries, including the “spread shacks,” where women sold their tufted chenille products to travelers on this stretch of the Dixie Highway.
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