Monday, August 13, 2007

Woolen Mills dam

Woolen Mills dam, August 13, 2007


The commercial manufacture of woolen and worsted cloth has never been an important part of the economy of Virginia or of the South as a whole. Since the rise of the factory system in the industry, dating from about 1830, it has been concentrated in New England and around Philadelphia. As late as 1810, there were no Southern woolen mills, and six years later Virginia had only a handful of very small cotton and woolen factories. The next generation saw an outcropping of mills in the Old Dominion, North and South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Louisiana. But today one rarely finds existing a Southern woolen mill that had its start prior to the War of Secession. Because it is one of the few enterprises which survived the ante-bellum days In the South, the century-old Charlottesville Woolen Mills, located in the Virginia Piedmont near the town whose name it bears, provides an interesting facet of Southern economic life--a facet which includes attempts at manufacture in the Old South, problems incurred because of the War and Reconstruction, difficulties with an inadequate money supply, the impact of world war, and the consequences of depression. In a sense it also provides a small picture of regional and local sectionalism, of the awareness of economic potentialities which has been so much a part of the New South. For these reasons the story of the Charlottesville Woolen Mills, insignificant as it may be to the total history of the country, possesses a certain uniqueness and interest which makes it worth telling.--Harry Poindexter

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