While Chickamauga is historically known for its Civil War history, its citizens knew it for operating the Crystal Springs Bleachery, which was the town’s largest employer during its operation.
Things to Do
- Walker County Regional Heritage/Train Museum, 100 Gordon Street: 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. Their hours of operation are Tuesday through Saturday 10:00 am – 4:00 pm.
- Crawfish Springs, 220 Cove Road: See the spring that helped power the Crystal Springs Bleachery. Crawfish Springs provides a beautiful park and recreation area and includes two gazebos, picnic areas, and a train bridge that park visitors may walk over.
Places to See
- Shaw Industries Plant SI/SP, 12545 North Highway 27: An heir of northwest Georgia’s traditional tufting and carpet business, Shaw Industries is a major employer throughout the region. The plant is private property and not open to the public.
- Crystal Springs Bleachery Site and Mill Village, West 10th Street: The bleachery that was once the heart of Chickamauga’s economy has been largely demolished, all but the foundations and a few walls are gone. The houses built for the Bleachery’s employees are still intact. Look for homes with hipped roofs or shotgun houses, both of which were traditional architecture for Southern mill villages.
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’s 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 a 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.
Charter Trail Members
- Walker County Regional Heritage and Train Museum
- Walker County Chamber of Commerce
- Walker County Historical Society
Resources to Explore
Click on the following links to learn more about this region.
- Facts for Kids
- Digital Library of Georgia
- Georgia Archives Virtual Vault
- Georgia Historical Society
- New Georgia Encyclopedia
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