The Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company dominated this community’s textile industry for 60 years.
Rockmart’s textile industry revolves around the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, which was constructed in 1929. A major pride for the community was the rubber parade floats crafted within the mill. The mill is still in operation under a new company.
Things to Do
- Rockmart Historical Museum, 133 South Marble Street: Located in the center of downtown Rockmart, the museum was previously the town’s city hall building and progressed through being the magistrate court, library, police department, and fire department. This museum features an exhibit area on the Goodyear Mill. Their hours of operation are Tuesday through Friday 10:00 am – 4:00 pm and Saturday 11:00 am – 3:00 pm.
- Rockmart Veterans Memorial Park, East Church Street: 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.
- Silver Comet Trail, 100 East Church Street: 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.
Places to 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, 669 Goodyear Avenue: This building, which was 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, which are reminiscent of the Goodyear era.
- JM Cochran Cotton Warehouse, 135 Church Street: Local farmers used cotton warehouses like this one as collecting points for their valuable cotton crop. The cotton was held here before being shipped off to manufacturing centers. Many cotton warehouses have been re-purposed, this one now serves as part of a local church.
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 but ceased 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.
Charter Trail Members
- Rockmart History Museum
- Rockmart Public Library
- Polk County Chamber of Commerce
- Polk 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
- Polk County, New Georgia Encyclopedia
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