The rushing water at Trough Shoals was
first used for the operation of a mill to grind corn meal. This was
built in the late 1700’s or early 1800’s and was known as Hancock’s
Mill. Part of the foundations of this mill still exist below the dam.
shows up on the Mills Atlas Map of 1825. Later on, water powered mills
to produce flour, saw lumber and to gin cotton were also built on the
Pacolet River at Trough Shoals. The site was used for commercial
purposes for well over a half century before the textile industry came.
A small community existed at the present site of Pacolet Mills before
the coming of the textile industry.
The first Pacolet Manufacturing Company mill at Trough Shoals was known
as Pacolet Mill No. 1 or Pacolet No. 1. It was completed
in 1883 by John H. Montgomery, John B. Cleveland, Joseph Walker, and
Dr. Charles Edwards Fleming, with the financial aid of Seth M. Milliken
of New York. The first dam over the river at this site was built just
before that date.
Mill No. 1 was three stories high and was right beside the river at the
south end of the dam. The mill flourished and by 1884, it had 250
workers and about 500 people lived in the village. The success of the
mill led to the construction of the four story Mill No. 2 as an
addition and enlargement of Mill No. 1. This construction work
was started in 1888 and this mill was also very successful. Mills No. 1
and 2 stretched for 600 feet along the river.
Old Photograph of Mills No. 1 and 2 taken before 1903
Based on the success of Mills No. 1 and No. 2, a third mill, No. 3, was
built a half mile down river on the same side. Another dam was built
across the river and this five story mill was completed in 1891.
Pacolet Manufacturing Company had great success with the first three
Photo of Mill No. 3, "the old mill"
(Courtesy of Lindie Wells)
The dam for Mill No. 3, "the old mill", as
it appears today.
An aerial photograph taken of the village
from above Mill No. 3, probably in the late 1950's.
(Courtesy of Lindie Wells)
The clothmaking process was complex and required careful
control of the material and machinery. Click on the following link to
see some photographs of how this was done at the Glendale Mill.
A textile mill was an incredibly complicated operation and people often
took it for granted. For a fresh look at building and operating a mill
read "It was So Complicated".
The mills at Pacolet were so successful that the Company decided to
expand into Georgia. They bought a tract of land near Gainesville in
north Georgia. This became known as the town of New Holland and a mill
was built here in 1902. It was known as Mill No. 4. Since it was built
by the Pacolet Manufacturing Company, it was also known as Pacolet
Mills No. 4 even though it was not in the town of Pacolet Mills,
SC. This name has often caused confusion over the years.
However, a great disaster awaited the mill company, the community and
all the residents of the Pacolet River
valley. On June 6, 1903, the Pacolet Mills community and many others
were struck by the Great Pacolet River Flood. Click
Flood, to read the full story about this
In just a few hours of an incredible rush of water, the Pacolet Mills
Company operation was almost destroyed. Both Mills No. 1 and
No. 2 were completely demolished. Downriver, Mill No. 3 was badly
damaged. The covered bridge was washed away along with a church, a
cotton warehouse and its contents, a meat market, a barber shop and the
A hotel that stood where the Cloth Room does today was also destroyed.
In spite of all this devastation, only one person lost their life at
Trough Shoals. This unfortunate person was a black man named Quay
Worthy. He was a mill employee and was trying to retrieve
floating cotton bales from the water when he drowned.
The community lost much of its population temporarily as the people had
to go to other communities to find work. Officials of the Pacolet Mills
Company asked other textile mills in the Spartanburg area to find jobs
for their workers while they rebuilt. Most of them responded favorably
and gave many folks employment.
Efforts to rebuild began right away. Mill No. 3 was repaired first and
was back in operation in 1904. However, what people of my generation
knew as the “New Mill” was not completed until 1907. This was named
Mill No. 5 since Mill No. 4 had been built in New Holland. The "New
Mill" was built where Mills No. 1 and No. 2 had stood before the flood.
Click on the link to see more
photographs of Mill No. 5.
The "New Mill" or Mill No. 5
In a very strange coincidence, tragedy
also struck the Pacolet Mills Company Mill No. 4 at New Holland ,
Georgia. Within the same week, a deadly tornado stuck the community of
New Holland. The mill itself was not seriously damaged. However, most
of the towns new houses were destroyed and approximately 100 people