Telling Stories, Connecting Communities

Tag: Rayon

West Point

Come see the birthplace of Georgia’s largest family-run textile empire!

West Point was home to one of the largest locally-owned companies to come out of West Georgia. Formed in the aftermath of the Civil War, the mills which became West Point Manufacturing provided jobs through the hard years of Reconstruction. West Point Manufacturing was formed circa 1881 and expanded steadily under the leadership of the Lanier family over the next 100 years, consolidating their stakes in the Chattahoochee River valley, the west Georgian, southeastern, and national markets in succession. The company collapsed after a hostile takeover shook it to its core in 1989, leading to an exodus of top executives. Today, many of the West Point Manufacturing’s brands are produced by a successor company, WestPoint Homes.


Things To Do

  • West Point Depot, 500 3rd Avenue: The building dates back to 1887, and was at one time the freight transfer building for Alabama and Georgia railroads. Now, it is a visitor center and museum. Their hours of operation are Monday through Friday 9:00 am – 4:00 pm and Saturday 10:00 am – 2:00 pm.
  • Riverview Dam, 105 Lower Street, Valley Alabama: This site is a public area where the original dam which provided power for the Riverdale Cotton Mill is located. Visitors can wade into the Chattahoochee River to examine the dam and view the site of the Riverdale mill.

Places To See

  • Fairfax Mill and Mill Village, 436 Boulevard: The village is centered on a main street that loops from Highway 29 towards the site of the mill before turning back to Highway 29. This was the final village built and designed by West Point Manufacturing. 200 homes were built here between 1915 and 1919, with a further 200 or so built by 1936 across Highway 29 in an area called New Town. A handful of the remaining homes on Johnson and Peterson streets were part of the “colored village” which housed African American employees during the segregation period. These employees worked mostly in construction, at the West Point Utilization plant, or as menial laborers. Their homes are notably smaller and farther away from the mill than homes built for white employees. The company built several amenities during this time including a swimming pool, tennis courts, gym, boarding house, and a baseball field, Crestview Ballpark, which still stands. Crestview Field, as it is now known, can be found at 198 W. Sears Street.
  • Shawmut Mill and Mill Village, 2302 34th Street: The majority of the mill has been demolished, but the foundation, a small portion of the original facade, and the central tower can all be viewed at 2302 34th Street in Valley, Alabama. However, the mill village is intact. This was the first comprehensively planned mill village built by West Point Manufacturing. Shawmut was designed as part of the City Beautiful movement of the 1900s which included professional planning, coordination of architecture and landscaping, and the prominent placement of public buildings. The layout of the village is centered on a North-South axis and spreads out of a circle situated directly in front of the mill. 8 residential streets radiate out from the central circle to the boundary of the formal plan, which forms a rough hexagon. The Chattahoochee Valley Railroad forms the eastern edge of the hexagon. Public buildings along the central circle included a school, three churches, a library, an auditorium, a movie theater, and the “Lower Stores” shopping center. The “Upper Stores” shopping center was located near the superintendent’s house further up the main boulevard. The village also boasted a modern hotel, cafeteria, and sporting facilities such as tennis courts and a baseball park.
  • Riverdale Mill Site and Riverview Mill Village, 53 Middle Street: The site of the former Alabama-Georgia Manufacturing Company is still partially intact, although demolition has been in process since before 2017. Visitors can drive through the mill village, which is a good example of earlier unplanned “mill hill” developments that sprung up around textile factories.
  • Langdale Mill and Mill Village, 6000 20th Avenue: The earliest portions of Langdale Mill date back to the 1880s and the beginning of West Point Manufacturing. While much of the mill has been demolished, the original main mill still stands as of May 2020. Langdale’s mill village is a good example of early textile “mill hill” villages, which were rather disorganized clusters of duplex houses constructed near the mill. These early homes were gradually upgraded by the company and were joined by the addition of 150 single-family frame bungalows between 1920-1936. Village life was augmented by company-owned schools, churches, gymnasiums, a baseball field, pools, and a masonic lodge.
  • Lanett Mill and Mill Village, 600 US-29: This is the site of the former Lanett Cotton Mills. While the mill itself has been demolished, the barracks-style mill village still stands. Much of the original houses still exist in the area bounded by 1st street, 10th Street, 4th Street, and Highway 29. This area was directly across from the mill.


Explore this community’s history via the drop-down sections below!

From the Ashes: Reconstruction and the Birth of West Point’s Textile Industry

Photo of the former Alabama-Georgia Manufacturing Company, renamed to Riverdale Cotton Mills, in the 1900s. The original mill can be seen on the left side with the slightly darker brick up to the edge of the water. In the mill’s early days, weaving was done on the 1st floor while carding and spinning were done on the 2nd and 3rd floor respectively. This carried on into the 1900s, where two additions, which can be seen on the right, were built in a slightly lighter brick. These newer buildings were used to facilitate the processing of raw cotton into the spinning and weaving operations in the original mill (lighter brick on the left side). This included the construction of opening, picking, slashing, and carding sections as well as corporate offices. Photo courtesy of Jarrett Craft.

West Point’s textile history began in the immediate aftermath of the Civil War. Community leaders, including George Huguley and James W. McClendon, raised funds by selling cotton stores which had been successfully hidden from raiding Federal soldiers. They used this capital as startup money for ventures to bring industrialization to the Chattahoochee River Valley. In 1866, McClendon established Chattahoochee Manufacturing Company, converting the Trammell grist mill – located in modern-day Langdale, Alabama – into a cotton factory. At the same time, Huguley formed the Alabama-Georgia Manufacturing Company by acquiring the Campbell grist mill at Riverview and revamping it to produce cotton cloth. Both of these mills were in Chambers County, Alabama, but from the beginning, their leadership and capital were located in West Point.

The mills were decent sized operations for the time. Chattahoochee Manufacturing Company commanded 50 looms and 3,000 spindles worked by 75 to 100 workers producing osnaburgs, a coarsely woven fabric usually used to make sacks. The Alabama-Georgia Manufacturing Company was similarly sized at 3,000 spindles, 8 cards, and 48 looms. The two mills prospered through the remainder of the 1860s and developed a name for quality. Both mills were still young and therefore were financially fragile. As such, they were unable to navigate the economic depression caused by the Panic of 1873 and were both forced to close.

This post card features a colorized photo of West Point Manufacturing’s Langdale Mill during the early 20th century. It was built on the site of Chattahoochee Manufacturing Company after the original mill burned in 1886. The main mill can be seen to the right, situated between the tower and the smokestack. At this point carding and spooling took place on the first floor, more carding on the second floor, and spinning on the third floor. The building to the left of main mill was the cloth room, which featured shafting at the basement level and weaving on the 1st floor. The roofs of cotton warehouses can be seen behind the cloth room while the Chattahoochee River can be seen off in the background behind the main mill. Mill village houses can be seen in the foreground. Courtesy of Jarrett Craft.

It was during this period that the Lanier brothers made their entrance into the region’s textile industry. After returning from serving in the Civil War, Lafayette and Ward Crockett Lanier founded a mercantile business in West Point. They used the profits from this business to establish a bank and an insurance company. Their biggest investment which stemmed from this was in the Chattahoochee Manufacturing Company. The brothers acquired a stake in the company from James McClendon in exchange for a parcel of land. In addition, Lafayette Lanier married Ada Huguley which gave him a family interest in George Huguley’s Alabama-Georgia Manufacturing Company.

The Laniers helped to pull the two companies out of the depression. During this period, they employed new superintendents at the Chattahoochee Manufacturing Company mill, an experienced father and son team from England named Thomas and William Lang. The Langs oversaw the change in production from osnaburg to flat duck. This product was an extremely versatile material, which could be used for sails in merchant clipper fleets and for tents and wagon covers used by the army and settlers pushing west. Their efforts increased the mill’s profitability substantially, to the point that the mill village was renamed Langdale in their honor.

Lafayette Lanier, co-founder of West Point Manufacturing Company. Lafayette and his brother Ward Crockett took local mills and expanded them massively with cash infusions from partners in Boston. Lafayette passed leadership of the company he built on to his son George Huguley Lanier, founding a textile dynasty in the process. Photo Courtesy of Cobb Memorial Archives, Valley, Alabama.

To sell this new product, the Laniers formed a relationship with N Boynton & Co., a selling agency based in Boston. Their new selling agents distributed duck from the Chattahoochee River Valley-based mills to the national market. They had the connections with railroad companies and clipper shipyards which consumed millions of yards of duck. By the 1880s, the mills of the valley had developed a reputation for quality duck, and even earned an honorable mention for their exhibit on soft and hard thread duck at the 1881 International Cotton Exposition in Atlanta, Georgia.

A New Company for the New South: West Point Manufacturing

By this point, the Lanier brothers had purchased a controlling interest in the Chattahoochee Manufacturing Company and reorganized it under the name West Point Manufacturing Company. The company was founded with a capital of $107,641.30 owned by 8 shareholders. The company flourished until 1886 when the mill burned to the ground. The Lanier brothers were on hand for the fire. Instead of panicking, they obtained financial backing from N Boynton & Co. and rebuilt. In exchange for rebuilding the mill many of the executives at N. Boynton & Co. became directors at West Point Manufacturing Company, N. Boynton & Co. became the sole selling agent of the company, and West Point Manufacturing’s treasury was moved to Boston. The arrangement increased the company’s capital to $300,000. In addition, the new mill was substantially larger, boasting 12,000 spindles and 300 looms producing duck.

While West Point Manufacturing was able to endure stretches of adversity, Alabama-Georgia Manufacturing Company could not. When it collapsed in 1890, Lafayette Lanier used his family connections to reincorporate it under the name of Galeton Cotton Mills. This led to an ownership dispute which reached the U.S. Supreme Court in Huguley Mfg. Co. v. Galeton Cotton Mills (1902). When he won, Lanier reincorporated the mill again as Riverdale Cotton Mills, a subsidiary of West Point Manufacturing Company. In this manner, he brought all the mills in the Chattahoochee Valley under his control. During this period, the mill was steadily expanded so that by 1901 it employed 300 people and featured 310 looms and 12,000 spindles producing duck.

An illustration of Lanett Cotton Mills, the first major addition to West Point Manufacturing Company made by the Laniers. Photo Courtesy of the Alabama Department of Archives and History.

At the same time as the Alabama-Georgia Manufacturing Company was collapsing, the Laniers were building new mills with financial backing from Boston. They incorporated Lanett Cotton Mills as a subsidiary of West Point Manufacturing Company in 1893, and construction was completed in 1894. This new factory was the largest so far, with 20,000 spindles and 550 looms producing duck, wide sheeting, and drills. To go along with that, they built Lanett Bleachery & Dye Works in 1895. This facility bleached, dyed, and finished products from the mills of the Valley. At its start, it could bleach 5 tons per day and dye 30,000 to 40,000 yards. As big as that sounds, it only employed around 150 people.

Lafayette Lanier also acquired a controlling interest in an operation in Rock Mills which Lafayette had been involved with since the 1880s. Although it would change back and forth between being called Rosedale Manufacturing Company and Wehadkee Yarn Mills, it would remain in the Lanier family for another 120 years.

Into the New Age: The Early 20th Century

Lanett Cotton Mills during the early 20th century. Photo Courtesy of the Alabama Department of Archives and History.

Lafayette Lanier had become the undisputed leader of his family’s interests in the textile business. He made trips to Boston for meetings with their Northern backers year in and year out. By 1900 he was president of all three mills in the Valley: Riverdale Cotton Mills, Lanett Cotton Mills, and West Point Manufacturing Company. At his death in 1910, he headed an empire that boasted 5 separate mills, 389 cards, 2,604 looms, 127,000 spindles and employed at least 2,300 people. This included the new, ultra-modern Shawmut mill. Shawmut was constructed in 1907-1908. It was the first fully electric mill in the Valley and was the first fully planned mill village community created by West Point Manufacturing Company.

Up until the construction of Shawmut, mill villages in the Chattahoochee Valley were completely unplanned. Houses were constructed and arranged in a haphazard manner by the company, generally clustered in a bunch around the mill building. In the time leading up to the building of Shawmut, reformers nationwide were calling for houses set on wide, planned boulevards which featured multiple variations of arts and crafts style homes. The company was also expected to construct kindergartens, schools, libraries, hospitals, and churches. Shawmut was the first mill in the Chattahoochee Valley to adhere to this concept.

George Huguley Lanier, pictured here, took over his family’s interests in West Point Manufacturing Company after the death of his father. He worked his way up to the position of president and guided the company through the Great Depression and World War II before passing the baton on to his son Joseph L. Lanier Sr. Photo Courtesy of Cobb Memorial Archives, Valley, Alabama.

The death of Lafayette Lanier, although premature, did not stop the progress of his textile empire. He was replaced as president at Lanett Cotton Mills by a business associate from Boston, William Wellington, who had become the senior partner of N. Boynton & Co. and renamed it Wellington Sears & Co. After an interim president, Lanier was succeeded as president of Riverdale Cotton Mills and West Point Manufacturing by J.B. Richmond of Boston. Lafayette Lanier’s eldest son, George Huguley Lanier, named after his grandfather (the founder of Alabama-Georgia Manufacturing), took control of the family interests and was named vice president at West Point Manufacturing, Lanett Cotton Mills, and Riverdale Cotton Mills. Finally, his youngest son, Lafayette Lanier Jr., took control of Lafayette Sr.’s shares in Wehadkee Yarn Mills of Rock Mills in 1917 while also acting as the cotton buyer for the mills in the Valley.

West Point Manufacturing continued to expand under the watch of J.B. Richmond. In 1915 construction began on a new mill at Fairfax, Alabama. It was the second fully electric mill to be built in the Valley and second to feature a planned mill village. The new plant produced towels and operated with 25,000 ring spindles, 1,500 narrow looms, and 400 employees. Except for a short stint during World War I where it produced duck for the US Army, Fairfax was known for towel production for the entire time it was in operation.

Women employed as slashers at Fairfax Mill, the last West Point Manufacturing facility built in the Chattahoochee Valley. Photo Courtesy of Troup County Archives.


Depression, War, and Expansion: West Point Manufacturing under George H. Lanier

Richmond and Wellington oversaw the Valley mills through World War I and into the 1920s. In 1925, Richmond became Chairman of the Board, and George H. Lanier was promoted to the position of president. The company consolidated by 1927, with Riverdale Cotton Mills and Lanett Cotton Mills being absorbed into West Point Manufacturing Company and becoming the Riverview and Lanett plants respectively. Shortly thereafter, they pushed further into the towel market by purchasing the well known Martex brand, which would become the staple of West Point Manufacturing’s towel industry and is still in production today.

An executive and worker in discussion in a West Point Manufacturing facility, probably during the tenure of George H. Lanier. Photo Courtesy of the Troup County Archives.

George H. Lanier maintained his position as company president of the newly consolidated West Point Manufacturing until his death in 1948. He managed the company through the stormy times of the Great Depression and World War II. In 1935, at the height of the Depression, mills controlled by the Lanier family boasted 440 cards, 5,128 looms, 267,544 spindles, and most importantly employed at least 4,868 people. George H. Lanier expanded operations into Georgia by acquiring Dixie Cotton Mills in LaGrange in 1933. Lanier continued expanding by purchasing his longtime selling agency Wellington Sears & Co. in 1945, acquiring Cabin Crafts industries in Dalton in 1946, and buying Columbus Manufacturing Company of Columbus, Georgia in 1947. Wellington Sears & Co. came with the added bonus of two more duck producing mills in Anderson, South Carolina. These acquisitions laid the foundation for a massive diversification of the product line. While West Point Manufacturing would continue to be known as a producer of duck and toweling, Cabin Craft industries was the beginning of what would become a massive carpet division in Dalton. Dixie Cotton Mills in LaGrange gradually transitioned from a duck factory to produce silk and rayon products and would eventually become part of a consumer products division.

A Union of North and South: The Presidency of Joe L. Lanier

West Point Manufacturing employee operating a Jacquard loom in Fairfax Mill, likely during the tenure of Joe L. Lanier Sr. Photo Courtesy of the Alabama Department of Archives and History.

Carleton B. Richmond and R.G. Boyd succeeded George H. Lanier as president after his death. They acted as little more than caretakers until 1951, when George’s eldest son Joseph “Joe” Lamar Lanier Sr. became president. At the time that Joe took over, the Lanier family controlled a vast textile empire which featured a total of 379,872 spindles, 8,386 looms, and 11 plants, including the mills purchased with Wellington, Sears & Co. in Anderson as well as Wehadkee Yarn Mills run by Joe’s younger brother Bruce. Joe initiated a sales campaign in post-war Europe, hoping to expand the business abroad and take advantage of Europe’s slow economic recovery. Under his watch, West Point Manufacturing sold shares on the New York Stock Exchange for the first time. The company also sold the mill village houses in the Valley to their tenants, creating 2,000 new property owners. But Joe Lanier’s biggest achievement was orchestrating the merger between West Point Manufacturing Company and Pepperell Manufacturing Company to create West Point-Pepperell, which he promptly became CEO and Chairman of, in 1965.

The West Point-Pepperell was fully consolidated by 1970. In that year, the company featured an Industrial Fabrics division, Apparel Fabrics division, Consumer Products division, and a Carpets and Rugs Division. The Industrial Fabrics, Apparel Fabrics, and Consumer Products divisions boasted a massive combined total of 14,837 looms and 479,364 spindles in 25 mills spread across 6 states. The Carpets and Rugs Division was mostly based in Dalton, Georgia, but had operations in North Carolina and Massachusetts, as well.

Flooding was a perennial problem in the Chattahoochee Valley up until the construction of the West Point Dam. 1961 was an especially bad year, to the point that employees were able to drive a motorboat along the factory floor. Photo Courtesy of Cobb Memorial Archives, Valley, Alabama.


The Boom Before the Bust: Joseph Lanier Jr.

Joe L. Lanier Sr. retired in 1974 and passed on the family interests to his son Joseph L. Lanier Jr., who became President of West Point-Pepperell in 1974 and CEO and Chairman five years later. During the period of his presidency, the company built on their carpet business in Dalton by purchasing Ludlow Corporation’s assets and establishing Georgian Carpets. In 1980, at the beginning of his Chairmanship, West Point-Pepperell reached $2.2 billion in sales and employed 35,000 people in 15 states and 9 countries.

Lanier was unwilling to rest on these laurels. He undertook a massive expansion campaign starting in 1980. Acquisitions included Virginia Crafts, Tifton Carpet Spinning, Bond Cote Systems of Virginia, Arthur Sanderson & Son Ltd. of London, Cluett, Peabody & Co., and competitor J.P. Stevens & Co. The company also underwent a $150 million modernization project which brought their spinning and weaving operations up to date.

Joseph L. Lanier Jr. speaking at the opening of the West Point Dam. Lanier Jr. was the last of the Lanier family to lead West Point-Pepperell. Photo Courtesy of Troup County Archives.

Arthur Sanderson & Son were a major textile marketing firm in London, the addition of which signified West Point-Pepperell’s ambition to push into the international market. The purchase of Cluett, Peabody & Co. brought the famous Arrow shirt and Halston line of men’s clothing into the company’s profile. The acquisition of J.P. Stevens & Co. also had a massive impact. The purchase included brands such as Ralph Lauren and Laura Ashley and eliminated J.P. Stevens & Co. as a competitor. However, it also doubled the company’s debt ratio.

Corporate Takeover

This, in addition to valuable name brands, the state of the art manufacturing facilities, and the non-unionized labor pool proved a lure to corporate raiders. Only 8 months after the purchase of J.P. Stevens & Co., William Farley, a corporate raider whose most notable capture had been Fruit of the Loom Inc., began a hostile takeover of West Point-Pepperell. The takeover was opposed by the Laniers, the board, the employees, and the state legislature. Farley won, purchasing 95% of the company’s shares for $3 billion. He then established himself as Chairman and CEO. Joseph Lanier Jr. and many of the directors left the company in response. For the first time since the company’s founding in 1880, the Laniers were not involved.

Farley was in trouble from the beginning. Many key positions were left empty by a mass exodus of executives. To make matters worse, the former head of J.P. Stevens & Co. took the rights to the Laura Ashley brand with him. The executives were not the only disgruntled members of the company, however. Factory workers regularly burned Fruit of the Loom merchandise in protest during the takeover. Moreover, Farley had saddled himself with a load of debt during the takeover. His plan to finance the deal by selling junk bonds fell through. He attempted to sell off assets such as Cluett and Peabody to meet his loan payment deadline, but received too low a price too late. In March 1990 he ceded control of his 95% majority.

The holding company that Farley used to facilitate the takeover, West Point Acquisition, soon filed for bankruptcy. Farley remained as Chairman and CEO, but was soon forced out by private investors who restructured and renamed the holding company to Valley Fashions Corporation. Investors also sued Farley for failing to complete the takeover.

The Bust: The Collapse of West Point-Stevens

The economic recession of the early 1990s further aggravated the turbulency in the corporate office. West Point-Pepperell sales dropped 5.9%. In February 1993 Joseph L. Jennings, a relative of the Lanier family, was brought in as president to help stabilize the operations. He initiated a plan which involved consolidating company brands to streamline production and investing $200 million in new mill equipment. The following year the Valley Fashions Corporation acquired the remaining 5% of West Point-Pepperell shares and merged with its subsidiaries to create West Point-Stevens.

West Point-Pepperell corporate office in West Point, Georgia. Photo Courtesy of Cobb Memorial Archives, Valley, Alabama.

West Point-Stevens immediately undertook an aggressive marketing campaign and introduced several new products to reclaim their lost market share. Things were beginning to improve as the company approached the new millennium. But that optimism did not last long. West Point-Stevens filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in June 2004, after $103 million in losses since 2001. They shut down the old Dunson and Dixie mills in LaGrange as well as a towel factory in Valley. In 2005 West Point-Stevens was sold to American Real Estate Partners LP for $703.5 million, who now operate the company’s assets through their subsidiary, West Point Home. West Point Home has since shut down many of its manufacturing operations in the United States and moved its corporate offices to New York City. This ended the city of West Point’s role as a corporate headquarters and center of textile manufacturing, which had lasted for over 140 years. However, West Point Home still carries several of West Point Manufacturing’s traditional brands, such as Martex, and West Point Pepperell’s famous Lady Pepperell brand. While no textile manufacturing activities remain in the Chattahoochee Valley area today, several of the mill villages still stand as monuments to the Chattahoochee Valley’s industrial past. Altogether, the remaining buildings and the work of West Point Home continue the legacy built by the Lanier family and their employees.

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Although this community’s textile industry did not last more than around 50 years, it produced a variety of products such as cotton duck, hosiery, chenille bedspreads, carpet, and rayon.

Rome’s textile industry hosted a variety of productions including cotton duck, hosiery, chenille bedspreads, carpet, and rayon. Unfortunately, the textile industry within this community did not last more than around 50 years.


Things to Do

  • Chieftains Museum and Major Ridge Home, 501 Riverside Parkway Northeast: This location is not only a National Historic Landmark but one of the few entities to be verified as a site of the Trail of Tears. Major Ridge was one of the signers of the Treaty of Echota, the treaty which forced the relocation of the local Cherokees. Visit this museum to learn more about the history of the Cherokee Nation!
  • Oak Hill and the Martha Berry Museum, 24 Veterans Memorial Highway Northeast: Berry College was opened in 1902 as the brainchild of Martha Berry, the daughter of a local business owner. Visit this museum to learn more about the history of Berry College.

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.

  • Shaw Industries Plant 93, 20 East 12th Street: This modern flooring operation is one of the few remaining vestiges of Rome’s textile industry. It is appropriately located adjacent to the site of Anchor Duck Mills.
  • Anchor Duck Mills and Mill Village, East 12th Street Southeast: Although the mill has been demolished and replaced with unrelated buildings, the mill village still stands! Entrances to the mill village can be found at Mclin Street, Blanche Avenue, and Walnut Avenue.
  • Reynolds-Rankin Manufacturing Suit Company, 100 Broad Street: When this company was still in operation, it only rented out the front part of the building; the rest of the building was owned by Coca-Cola.
  • Rome Manufacturing Company, 2nd Avenue: This facility produced men’s and boy’s undergarments in the first half of the 20th century. The building is well preserved and is now home to several businesses.


  • Photo of an Italian American Manufacturer Chatillon Corporation
    Italian American Manufacturer Chatillon Corporation. Photo courtesy: Russ Harwell

The textile industry began in Floyd County during the early twentieth century with the opening of Massachusetts Cotton Mills in Lindale. Soon, other textile companies began to set up mills and plants in nearby southern and northern Rome. Rome, one of the largest cities along the trail, was a major producer of cotton duck, hosiery, chenille bedspreads, carpet, and rayon.

Floyd Cotton Mills was one of the earliest textile mills established within the city of Rome in 1903. Floyd Cotton Mill and the cotton duck that the mill produced paved the way for other textile companies to establish themselves in Rome, such as Anchor Duck Mills. Anchor Duck Mills produced duck cotton and a variety of other products. A past employee stated that the mill “could make about any type of fabric that was needed because they had all the various types of equipment.”

Rome Hosiery owned the Cherokee Hosiery Mill, which started production in 1913. The children that were employed by the mill were part of Lewis Wickes Hines famous survey of child labor in American industry. Hines noted that the children could be seen working on the production of hosiery as turners and loopers which were skilled positions.

Walter Dellinger founded Dellinger Bedspread Company to cash in on the rise in demand for chenille bedspreads in the early 1930s. Chenille bedspreads became a popular and profitable industry in Rome and were highly sought after items for tourists who were visiting the area. When the demand for chenille declined after World War II, Dellinger Bedspread Company began to produce carpet until its eventual closing.

In the late 1920s after conducting a nationwide survey, the American Chatillon Corporation purchased 2,000 acres of land in northern Rome and founded the Tubize plant. Tubize produced rayon, a popular synthetic fiber, and gained most of its workforce from Rome and the surrounding communities.  During World War II, Tubize produced fibers used in the production of parachutes.

Similar to the textile industry throughout the northwest region, business in the textile mills began to falter in the years following World War II. After merging with several other companies, Floyd Cotton Mills, which had changed its name to Floyd, Strain, and Juilliard Company, closed in the late 1950s. The Dellinger Plant eventually shut down as well. 

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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.


  • Photo of the Mickey Mouse Balloon produced by Goodyear, designed by Linda Smith in 1971
    Mickey Mouse Balloon produced by Goodyear. Photo courtesy: Rockmart Historical Society

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.

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This community hosted two textile mills alongside the hand-tufted bedspread industry lining U.S. Highway 41.

The first textile mill in Cartersville, the American Textile Company, was established in 1904, just 54 years after Cartersville became an established community. American Textile Company operated as the only textile mill in Cartersville until the foundation of Pyramid Mills Incorporated in 1920. Along with these two mills, Highway 41, also known as “Bedspread Boulevard”, was lined with women selling hand-tufted goods to tourists traveling through the area.


Things to Do

  • Bartow History Museum, 4 East Church Street: The Bartow History Museum’s signature exhibit highlights the impact of Goodyear and other textile industries in Cartersville and Bartow County. The museum has an extensive collection of documents and photographs relating to textile industry history. Their hours of operation are Monday through Saturday 10:00 am – 5:00 pm.

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.

  • Shaw Industries Group Incorporated: This location is currently a private business and is not open to the public. Shaw Industries Group Incorporated purchased this tufting mill in 1971. This plant, along with the company’s headquarters in Dalton, became two of the major centers of carpet production in Georgia.
  • ATCO & Goodyear Mill and Mill Village, Clearwater Street: Portions of the old mill can still be seen from the street. The old American Thread Company mill building purchased by Goodyear is now mostly gone. This mill village, located near Mayflower Street at Ohio Street, tells the story of those who worked at the mill and lived here. The mill grounds were meticulously maintained and parks were created for family gatherings. In the 1930s, Goodyear expanded the ATCO mill village and continued to support a community for its employees with scout troops, gardening space, a baseball with grandstands, a tennis court, a swimming pool, and more. The Goodyear baseball field is located across from the Goodyear plant where Hometown hero and professional baseball player Rudy York played when he worked at the mill and played for the Goodyear Mill team.
  • Bedspread Boulevard: Also known as U.S. Highway 41 and Dixie Highway, running through Cartersville and heading up to Dalton was once a place where women sold their chenille in roadside stands. Travel along this highway to look for remnants of that industry from Cartersville north through Dalton.
  • Bartow Textiles, 326 South Erwin Street: Bartow Textiles was built by tufting pioneer B. J. Bandy in 1940. This brick building illustrates the type of factory buildings constructed around the mid-twentieth century to house a growing number of chenille production operations.  
  • EZ Mills, 1 Johnson Street: This brick hosiery mill was constructed in 1921 and originally featured an expansion interior filled with hosiery machines. Eventually acquired by the Sara Lee Corporation in 1991 the mill closed in 1995. This location is now known as Spring City Technology Park.


  • Aerial view of Goodyear and Mill Village
    Goodyear and mill village aerial view. Photo courtesy: Bartow History Museum

Established in 1850, in an agricultural region, Cartersville became the seat of Bartow County in 1872. Beginning in the early twentieth century, cotton manufacturing developed in the city and gave way to a thriving carpet manufacturing industry by the mid-twentieth century.

American Textile Company (ATCO) opened the first cotton mill just outside Cartersville in 1904. The company constructed a substantial brick mill building to produce cloth for horse collar pads and an adjacent mill village. After 1917, the Cartersville mill began to manufacture other types of cotton textile products including Duck sheeting, drills, and Osnaburg. Over the next twenty-five years, the horse collar pad business declined as the automobile industry grew and new markets for cloth were found.

In 1929, Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company purchased ATCO, expanding the mill and the mill village to include almost 300 new houses. The company thrived, producing tire cord for the booming automobile industry. With company-sponsored baseball teams, a scout troop, a recreational park, garden space, and a mill band, the mill village was an enjoyable community for Goodyear mill employees. During World War II, the Goodyear mill and other southern mills focused on cotton and rayon production for tires and produced special fabrics for duffel bags, cartridge belts, tents, and field packs for the U.S. Armed Forces. In the 1950s, the mill expanded to include two new facilities, a rayon mill and a pre-dip unit where fabrics were pretreated for final finishing. With this expansion, the mill was converted to synthetic textile production, which replaced its cotton production. Goodyear closed the Cartersville plant in 2003. The American Thread Company and Goodyear mill buildings were torn down, and the mill homes are now privately owned.

In 1920, a hosiery mill opened in Cartersville to manufacture knit underwear. Known first as Pyramid Mills Incorporated, then as Cartersville Mills, the mill was purchased by the Haight Brothers in 1940 and renamed E-Z Mills. Manufacturing underwear for children and infants, the mills primarily female workforce operated the knitting machines, which made the popular “union suit,” as well as other types of undergarments. In 1969, E-Z Mills converted to manufacturing men’s and boy’s tee shirts and briefs to fulfill a contract with New York-based Cluett, Peabody & Co. In 1976, Cluett, Peabody & Co., Inc. purchased and expanded the mill and increased employment from 618 to 810 employees and changed the mill’s name to Spring City Knitting in 1988. The Sara Lee Corporation acquired the Spring City Knitting Company in 1991. This mill closed in 1992 due to increased international competition following the North American Free Trade Agreement of 1994 (NAFTA).

In the early twentieth century, many women in Cartersville and Bartow County were participating in the growing hand-tufted bedspread cottage industry, begun by Catherine Evans Whitener near Dalton around 1900. Women sold their hand-tufted goods along U.S. Highway 41, also known as Old Dixie Highway, Bedspread Boulevard, and later as Peacock Alley, which runs through Cartersville. In the early 1940s, as hand-tufted bedspread production moved from the roadside stands along the Dixie Highway and into factories that produced machine-tufted chenille products, chenille entrepreneurs B.J. Bandy and Dicksie Bradley Bandy opened Bartow Textiles in Cartersville. Bartow Textiles manufactured tufted chenille products such as robes, small rugs, spreads, and draperies.

In 1949, after the death of her father B.J. Bandy, Dicksie Bandy Tillman, and her husband, David Tillman, took over Bartow Textiles. As the chenille business died down in the late 1940s, the company transitioned from yardage machines that were used to produce large swaths of chenille to the broadloom for the production of wall-to-wall carpet. David Tillman at Bartow Textiles was one of the first to experiment with broadloom carpet production. The Tillman’s made the decision to leave the textile business in 1954 because entering into full-scale carpet production would have required heavy investment into refitting old machines and buying new equipment.

Inspired by experimentation with the idea of making broadloom-produced floor carpets, Jack Bandy, B.J. and Dicksie’s youngest son, became an industry leader in carpet production as one of the founding partners of Coronet Carpets. In 1970, Shaw Industries, a company based in Dalton, Georgia, began manufacturing carpet in Cartersville with the acquisition of the Philadelphia Carpet Company. Shaw Industries went on to become one of the world’s largest carpet manufacturers and is still operating in Cartersville today.

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