South Carolina Picture Project
South Carolina Picture Project

Laurens Cotton Mill — Laurens, South Carolina

SC Picture Project  |  Laurens County  |  Laurens Cotton Mill

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Laurens Cotton Mill

The ruins of Laurens Cotton Mill still watch over this small town, serving as a reminder of the Upsatate’s once-booming textile industry. Early manufacturers took advantage of the area’s natural water power and prolific cotton crops as early as the nineteenth century.

Laurens Cotton Mill

Kathy Dickerson of Greenwood, 2015 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

The first Laurens Cotton Mill was built on Rabon Creek by Richard Simpson. That mill burned in 1837. Train tracks were laid in the area following the Civil War, enabling cotton farmers to more efficiently transport their harvests to mills and markets. As a result, the South Carolina textile industry thrived. In 1895 businessmen John W. Ferguson, Nathaniel B. Dial, and W.H. Martin established the new Laurens Cotton Mill.

Laurens Mill Chimney

Kathy Dickerson of Greenwood, 2015 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

The mill operated under steam power until 1926 when it was converted to electricity. The Milliken family, who owned textile plants throughout the Upstate, bought a controlling interest in the mill in 1905. Under the leadership of the Millikens, the company replaced housing in the mill village in 1920 and built a school for the children of mill workers (no longer extant).

Laurens Mill

Kathy Dickerson of Greenwood, 2015 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Though the price of cotton fell in the 1920s, the Laurens Mill survived and even expanded over the years. By the mid-century the mill complex included not just the main mill building but also a warehouse, cloth room, packing and shipping area, waste house, and water tower.

Laurens Textile Mill

Sharon Barnes of Laurens, 2015 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Towards the end of the twentieth century most Upstate mills were forced to close due to competition from cheap foreign labor. Though this mill has largely been demolished, Milliken and Company continues to operate a textile manufacturing company in Laurens called the Gilliland Plant.

Laurens Cotton Mill Info

Address: Mill Street, Laurens, SC 29360
GPS Coordinates: 34.501924,-82.006116

Laurens Cotton Mill Map

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2 Comments about Laurens Cotton Mill

Russell G. Moore says:
July 7th, 2018 at 11:53 am

I grew up on Jackson Street, mom worked at Laurens Mill and dad at Watts Mill. I spent many hours fishing in the mill pond and playing ball at the mill ballpark on Wilson Street.

Joe taylor says:
September 25th, 2017 at 10:54 am

We are trying to find the owner of Lauren’s Cotton Mill. Have seen several pallets of old brick through the fence. We would like to purchase them.


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