The waterways in Lithia Springs powered one of the region’s first textile manufacturing plants.
Sweetwater Factory began operations in 1849. Natural resources from the surrounding area were used to build the mill. When the mill was completed, Sweetwater factory was massive and “taller than any building in Atlanta.” A small mill village officially named Sweetwater, but also known as Factory Town by some of its inhabitant, quickly grew around the mill. Unlike other mill villages, Sweetwater did not provide any educational or recreational facilities for their employees. The town consisted mostly of small farms of those who worked in the mill.
New Manchester mills produced cotton fibers. This raw product was shipped to other manufacturing companies to be processed into yarn. After a reorganization of the company, Sweetwater changed its name to New Manchester Manufacturing Company.
During the Civil War, Union forces targeted Southern textile mills to weaken the Confederacy’s economy and wartime production. New Manchester was no exception to the brutality of the Civil War. Federal forces burned this mill during Sherman’s March to the Sea. New Manchester never recovered after the Civil War. The ruins of the mill were left undisturbed and were soon covered with dense foliage.
Today, you can visit Sweetwater Creek State Park to hike to the ruins of New Manchester Manufacturing Company. Enjoy the Visitors Center’s exhibit about the mill and mill life while you are there!
What can you do?
Sweetwater Creek State Park Visitors Center — Those who visit the Visitors Center will find everything that they need to hike the trails that run throughout the park.The Visitor’s Center also features exhibits and wildlife displays.
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.
- New Manchester Mill Ruins, Sweetwater State Park — In an effort to preserve the ruins of the New Manchester Manufacturing Company, the interior of the ruins is not open to the public. The ruins can still be viewed from the outside.
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