by Ruby Hawk on 26/07/11 at 1:58 pm
The cotton mill town of Trion, Georgia has been going strong since it was built in the years between 1845 and 1847. Practically every other textile plant in the state of Georgia has either closed their doors or moved their business to other countries. Mount Vernon makes denim for the most famous jean brands and still works three shifts five to seven days a week. They must be doing something right.
The little mill town of Trion, Georgia was built on a former Cherokee Village called Island Town between the years 1845 and1847. Located on the Chattooga river it was the perfect place to build a cotton mill. The river would supply all the necessary power and the closest competition was in Roswell, Georgia, a hundred miles away. The company mill had it’s own brick and lumber yards to supply materials for the mill buildings, school, store and homes for it’s workers. They later added apartments, hospital, inn, ice plant, glove mill, theater and YMCA. The mill town grew steadily.
To begin with they produced only yarn but ventured into cloth for sacks, diapers, toweling,book coverings and sheeting. They now make denim for the best known jeans. Riegel textiles was one of the earliest cotton mills in Georgia and due to good management it is still going strong while almost all others have closed and relocated to other countries. Riegel Textiles probably had no idea they would capture such a large share of the Textile industry. They were in business 40 years before the railroad came to Trion in 1888. Before that four to eight covered wagons hauled their yarn products to market in Rome and returned with supplies.
Riegel Textiles, now Mount Vernon, owned everything in town and it was an exceptionally good place to live. The homes had large rooms with high ceilings and were kept in good repair and painted. Some homes were one family homes and some were duplexes. There was an Inn where single girls who worked at the mills stayed. Houses had an outdoor toilet and a spigot in the yard that supplied the home with water. Some time after world war 11, plumbing was added and bathrooms were built. Some cotton mill workers moved from one cotton mill to another but many families worked their entire working years and retired at Riegel, and I might add, still do.
In the 1930s Riegel changed it’s two twelve hour shifts to three shifts of eight hours to comply with the federal labor reform law. Adding another shift required the building of more houses. People had few cars at the time but at Trion one could walk everywhere he needed to go. Trion’s Big Friendly company store stood at the center of town and had everything anybody could want. Groceries, clothing, hardware, furniture, coal, drugs, cafe, fabrics,beauty shop, funeral services and bank. Schools, hospital, movie theater, dry cleaners, laundry, Inn, ice plant, church and YMCA clustered around the cotton mill. The Big Friendly also had a rolling store for those who didn’t want to carry heavy bags of groceries. Riegel also had a prize winning dairy which delivered door to door. People traveled from great distances to tour the dairy.
Trion, Georgia was a good place to live. In later years when more cars were available many people were hired who didn’t live in the mill village and there was always a long list of workers waiting for an empty house. Later still, the houses were sold when Riegel began cutting back on it’s caretaking role. Most people who lived there bought their houses.
People still live and work in Trion. It’s a good place to work with good insurance, savings programs and retirement benefits. My sister lives in Trion and owns two apartments there although she doesn’t work in the mill. Trion is thriving.
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