The white stallion seen below stands guard over the Pacolet River in the namesake town of Pacolet. The community was home to Pacolet Mills, one of the South’s leading textile mills during the early twentieth century. The textile manufacturing company began operations in 1883 and had three mills powered by the Pacolet River by 1891. A catastrophic flood in 1903 wiped out two of the plant’s three mills and carried a death toll of around 70.
Pacolet Mills rebuilt by 1907 and went on to become the largest textile mill in the region. Its company logo was a running steed, as the name Pacolet is thought to be a Cherokee word meaning “fast-running horse.” A graphic of a horse in motion was stamped on all of the company’s products, and depictions of a galloping stallion soon proliferated the mill town.
The horse image soon represented not just the mill but the town itself. It became the mascot for the Pacolet Mills’ textile league two baseball teams (called the Trojans), was stamped onto paychecks received by mill employees, and could even be seen mounted on the local train engine. The old truss bridge crossing the Pacolet River was demolished in 1953, leaving a lone piling standing alongside the new bridge. The piling was unremarkable for decades until a couple of local residents got the idea to affix the symbol of the town, a stallion, onto the fragment emerging from the river.
R. S. Burns and Worry Kirby of Pacolet found a white fiberglass horse for sale in Greenville and were able to purchase it from the owner for $2,800. On July 12, 1996 the white horse was bolted to his new home on the stone pedestal stretching from the waters below, protected in a metal cage. Two signs flank the base of the horse; one commemorates the Trojans baseball teams, while the other touts the local Pacolet Amphitheater. The horse greets motorists crossing the South Carolina Highway 150 bridge over the river and stands as a reminder of the prosperity enjoyed by the mill town before Pacolet Mills closed in the 1980s.
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