Our Textile Legacy
A Textile and Tufting Manufacturing Center
The textile and tufting industries transformed Dalton into a leading industrial center in northwest Georgia.
Long before carpet manufacturing arrived, the Cherokee occupied this land until Indian Removal in 1838-39. Early settlers had established the crossroads community of Cross Plains by 1837 and it was renamed Dalton in 1847 by northern speculators who were following railroad development. This regional trading center developed with the Western and Atlantic Railroad in 1847 which ran from Chattanooga to Atlanta, followed by the East Tennessee and Georgia Railroad in 1852.
Local entrepreneurs responded quickly to the cry to bring cotton mills to Georgia in the 1880s. Construction began on the Crown Cotton Mill, near Hamilton's spring, in 1884, followed by the Elk Cotton Mill and the American Thread Mill south of town. Dalton had become a cotton mill town.
By the early twentieth century, businessmen and boosters began to establish hosiery mills in many railroad towns, and Dalton businessmen joined in. In 1917, Chattanooga native G. Lamar Westcott,
Earlier, young Dalton resident Catherine Evans, later Whitener, revived the candlewick tradition of producing hand-tufted bedspreads by tufting cotton yarns into muslin fabric. By the 1910s, other women followed her lead, building a cottage industry of tufting at home. Soon the spreads were displayed and sold along the Dixie Highway, later Highway 41 and known as Bedspread Boulevard or Peacock Alley. The area became known as the "Bedspread Center of the World." By the 1930s, the chenille industry moved into mechanized "spread shops" and expanded to include rugs and fashion clothing.
The now-successful tufted carpet industry emerged out of mechanized chenille production. Once again, entrepreneurial industry pioneers developed new machinery to make this industry efficient and productive, from needle punch to broadloom. Now, Dalton is well known as the "Carpet Capital of the World."
Explore Dalton's rich textile history, from its cotton mill villages through the chenille bedspread and now carpet businesses. Pick up a brochure in the Visitors Center to take the driving tour and see some of the important historical sites in the textile industry here. Be sure to visit the Crown Garden and Archives and the Bandy Heritage
Photos courtesy of Whitfield-Murray Historical Society, Bandy Heritage Center, Carpet & Rug Institute, Georgia Archives
Cotton Sales on Hamilton Street, circa 1900
Dalton Map, 1865
Westcott Hosiery Mill
Cotton Mills and Mill Villages
Dalton became a major cotton manufacturing center for northwest Georgia by the early twentieth century, and many residents lived in mill villages.
Dalton boosters eagerly participated in the "New South" cotton mill boom in Georgia from the 1880s through early 1900s, Atlanta Constitution editor Henry Grady passionately called for a "Cotton Mill Campaign" in 1886. Grady argued that the South needed to rebuild its economy by bringing "the cotton mill to the cotton fields." Expanded railroads would link cotton mills, now powered by steam or electricity, to markets in the South and the North.
A group of business leaders in Dalton and Tennessee established Crown Mill here in 1884. Alongside Hamilton Spring, loud, rumbling spinning frames and weaving looms transformed raw cotton into finished cloth. The three-story brick mill dwarfed other buildings in town and promised to fuel the local economy.
To house the workers, the company built mill
Two large cotton mills followed, each with its own mill village, first Elk Cotton Mill in 1907 and then American Thread Mill in south Dalton. Crown Mill purchased the Elk Mill in 1924, renaming it Boylston-Crown. Historian Douglas Flamming writes that Dalton had a "noticeable swagger" by the 1920s, anticipating a bright future.
Companies created mill villages to maximize their profits and manage their employees. Mill houses provided convenient access to the workplace and allowed the company to create a stable workforce. The wood-frame homes were single-family or duplex homes, with a coal-burning fireplace, front porch, and outhouse. Many families kept gardens, chickens, and sometimes a cow in the backyard.
Mill villages were like small towns, managed by the mill. Company stores sold food and supplies at high prices. However, the mills funded schools for children, and Crown offered a night school for adults. Companies sponsored baseball and basketball teams, community bands, scout troops, yard improvement campaigns, barbecues, and a variety of
Within these mill villages, workers built community. They shared music and stories on the front porches of their homes and enjoyed holidays and celebrations together. They married other mill workers and created extended family networks. The villages became, in the expression of many workers, "like a family."
Photos courtesy Historical Society, Bandy Heritage Center, Carpet & Rug Institute, Georgia Archives
Crown Cotton Mill
Mill Village Street
Crown Point School
Westcott Mill Baseball Team
Women Build the Chenille Industry
Golden Age of Tufting
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Industry & Commerce • Railroads & Streetcars • Settlements & Settlers • Women. A significant historical year for this entry is 1837.
Location. 34° 46.182′ N, 84° 58.03′ W. Marker is in Dalton, Georgia, in Whitfield County. Marker is on South Depot Street. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Dalton GA 30720, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Welcome to Dalton! (a few steps from this marker); Carpet Technology (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); The Mechanization of the Bedspread Industry (about 700 feet away); Western and Atlantic Railroad Depot
Credits. This page was last revised on May 28, 2021. It was originally submitted on May 14, 2021, by David Tibbs of Resaca, Georgia. This page has been viewed 189 times since then and 87 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on May 13, 2021, by David Tibbs of Resaca, Georgia. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.