Explore the rich textile history of this “New South” community from tire cords to parade balloons.
In 1929, Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company constructed its third cotton textile mill in Georgia. The Rockmart mill was Goodyear’s first textile mill fully constructed by the company. Goodyear also built a mill village for the workers. The 300 mill village homes were constructed in a variety of styles to attract workers. The brick houses built in the front of the mill village, an area called “Boss Row,” were constructed for the managers. The mill made cotton tire cord and later also produced rayon and special fabrics for duffel bags, cartridge belts, tents, and field packs for the military.
Goodyear briefly shut down most of its production, including tire cord, in May of 1949 maintaining only a small staff to produce small amounts of rayon fabric. In early 1950, Goodyear resumed full production and removed all cotton operations to produce only rayon and nylon fabric. By 1953, Goodyear went into rubberized fabric production as well. Life rafts for commercial airlines were among the first products to be constructed from this rubber. Later products included fuel cells for both aircraft and land vehicles, pillow tanks, dunnage bags, oil containers, and even parade balloons and small parachutes for bombs.
Many companies, including Goodyear, sponsored annual field days for their employees and families, and barbecues were a popular attraction. In 1950 company supervisors at Goodyear observed African American cooks preparing the meat over the pit at the Rockmart field day. In the Jim Crow era, African Americans worked the most menial jobs at the mill, but they could display their culinary skills at these events.
Goodyear employees and their families took great pride in the large rubber parade balloons produced at the Rockmart plant. The star of the 1965 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, Linus the Lionhearted balloon, was entirely manufactured at Goodyear’s fabric conversion department. Cedartown resident Linda Smith designed the Mickey Mouse balloon for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade in 1971. Since 1929, Goodyear’s Rockmart Plant designed and manufacture 92 giant balloons for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade including Underdog in 1965, Smokey the Bear in 1966, and Kermit the Frog in 1977. Unfortunately, due to the labor cost of building giant balloons, by the early 1980s Goodyear was no longer making balloons for the parade.
Although sold several times, the former Goodyear plant is still in operation as Meggitt Polymers and Composites.
Member Organizations on the Trail:
What can you do?
- Rockmart Historical Museum — Located in the center of downtown Rockmart at 133 South Marble Street, the museum is open Monday through Saturday 10:00am to 4:00 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.
- Rockmart Veterans Memorial Park — Located in front of the Silver Comet Trailhead at the corner of Water Street and Church Street, this park is a memorial to all Veterans of Polk County.
- Polk County Historical Society — The Polk County Historical has many photographs and artifacts from Goodyear’s history on display. Hours of operation are Wednesdays 1:30 to 4:00 pm, Thursday – Saturday 10:00 am to 2:00 pm.
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.
- Goodyear Plant — Located at 669 Goodyear Street in Rockmart, the former Goodyear Plant is now home to Meggit Polymers and Composites. Drive around the area to see the mill village homes built by Goodyear and notice the street names reminiscent of the Goodyear era.
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