“Connecting the dots to Charleston, S.C.”
The Rock Hill Herald reported on May 30, 1903 – “That Pelzer, S.C. is a town of 7,000 which has no municipal government, as it is managed by the Pres. of the Pelzer Manufacturing Company, which provides schools, churches, hotels, banks, a lyceum, stores, etc. The entire population is employed by the company.”
City Directories and History: Pelzer was designed as a mill town to operate four sites along the Saluda River. The mills were heavily associated with prominent Charlestonians, see Thread links this page. Designed by the Lockwood and Greene and Co., architects, of Providence, Rhode Island, and later Boston. The influential design firm also worked on many other S.C. projects including: the current S.C. State Museum building, Pacolet Mills, the Montgomery Building and Frank Evans High School all located in Spartanburg County.
“Pelzer Cotton Mill lies on the west bank of the Saluda River, a half mile away, where the stream makes its way between the hills of Anderson and Greenville counties. The first work done toward its erection was the building of a solid rock dam across the river from the Greenville to the Anderson side. The dam is eighteen feet wide at its base, tapering up to ten inches at the top. It is 300 feet long and 21 feet high and, completely stemming the whole stream, turns its main force into a canal forty-two feet wide and seventeen feet deep. This canal runs under the building and furnishes the tremendous power that whirls the machinery of the great mill.
The water pours over the dam for its entire length in a constant, roaring cataract that tells of a vast amount of power that could yet be acquired were it ever to be needed. But as it stands, 1,000 horse power has been developed, and of this only 600 horse power is requisite to run the ponderous driving machinery.
The Pelzer Mill is essentially a Charleston enterprise. Its origin was in the mind of Mr. F.J. Pelzer, a major Charleston factor and entrepreneur, and to his foresight, energy, public spirit, and business sagacity the State is indebted for the thriving town and splendid manufacturing establishment we are about to describe. The first organization was as follows: President and treasurer, Capt. Ellison A. Smyth; directors, E.J. Pelzer, William Lebby, W.B. Smith, and David Lopez, all well-known Charleston men. Mr. Lebby afterwards died and was succeeded by Senator A.T. Smyth, and Mr. Lopez, whose death created another vacancy, has been succeeded by Capt. Wm. A. Courtenay, now mayor of Charleston.
The work of securing the water power having been finished, the task of building and completing the mill and all of its essential adjuncts was next begun. A regularly laid broad-gauge railroad was constructed from Pelzer Station, connecting there with the track of the Columbia and Greenville Railroad and running directly to the factory site. Shops were erected and in these all of the doors and windows and much more of the woodwork of the mill was built. Brickyards were started, and the five million bricks necessary for the erection of the factory building and warehouses were made on the spot. Hundreds of hands were employed, wages were promptly paid in cash, and Pelzer at once became the scene of active business life.
The large tract of land purchased by the company contained previously a few dilapidated cabins and a farmhouse of little value. Buildings for the factory and homes for the president, the superintendent, and the operatives went up on all sides. The railroad, at once a great economizer of time, labor, and expense, delivered carloads of lumber and machinery at the factory doors; skilled workmen placed them in position, and the work went systematically on until the original model of Pelzer was finished.
Pelzer Cotton Mill is approached through Lebby Street, named in honor of the late Wm. Lebby. To the right runs Courtenay Street, named for Mayor Courtenay. To the left, at a point overlooking the factory, stands the residence of President Smyth, a handsome building of modem
design. The railroad passes directly in front of it. To the right, approaching the mill, stand prominently the neat cottage residences of the overseers. To the right again we see the substantial depot used for the reception and storing of oil, starch, and other material used at the mill. Farther up the hill stand two large brick warehouses of a capacity of 8,000 bales. From these warehouses track ways lead to the picker room, which is on the factory’s second floor. These track ways afford a level and easy way over which cotton is carried directly into the picker room, where bales are opened and the cotton fed into the picker machines. ” Reprinted from South Carolina in the 1880s: A Gazetteer by J.H. Moore, Sandlapper Publishing Company – 1989
R&R NOTE: There are many listings for cotton mills on the pages of the website but to link to a few randomly visit the R&R Homepage and click on the Cotton and Textile Mills section.
IMAGE GALLERY – 2018
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