Friday, March 2, 2018

S.M. Dugger Describes Impressive Cotton Mills in Gaston County, 1904

From the Watauga Democrat, March 3, 1904, Robert C. Rivers, editor and proprietor.
Judging from my own experience, the people of Watauga have little imagined the magnitude of the cotton mill industry in North Carolina. One has to see it to be impressed.

Gaston County has 32 mills, ranging in value from $100,000 to $1,000,000 each. The Loray, which I visited yesterday, is 555 feet long, 130 feet wide and five stories high, besides the basement.

Each mill has a tower with an observatory on or in the top. The smoke-stacks are built of brick, as are the buildings. They are from 100 to 130 feet high, generally round and always tapered like a trumpet with the small end up. The capacity of the Loray Mill is 50,000 spindles and 1,620 looms, together with cards, rules, warping frames, etc. The Draper loom used in this mill is so perfectly constructed that when a thread breaks, it stops. The contrivance is as simple as it is wonderful. In passing the threads through the gears, each one is also passed through a drop needle, which is a half an inch wide, but very thin and light. When the thread breaks, the needle drops and catches between a stationary and an oscillating bar, and the loom stops.

One of the finest things here is the Macadam roads. They are built with cuts and fills, so as to economize distance and material. The people say that when they pass off of the old roads onto the new, the difference is the same as if they had on a heavy load and had thrown it off.

I forgot to state that the superintendent of the Loray Mill informed me that they had made a rule to let no one in. But when I told him that I was from among the balsams of the Grandfather, and had on my heels an extra fine quality of North Carolina tar, he opened the door.
                --S.M. Dugger, Feb. 27

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