Graniteville is located in Aiken County and is the site of the first large-scale cotton mill in the South, built in 1846. There were earlier mills, most notably in Vaucluse, which in 1830 become home to South Carolina’s first mill village. Also owned by William Gregg, the Vaucluse village served as a prototype for Graniteville. The mill at Graniteville, however, was much larger and encompassed what we think of as a mill village with a school for employees’ children and a “company store” where credit was granted against future wages.
In January 2005, two trains collided near the Avondale Mills plant in Graniteville. One of the trains carried chlorine, and 90 tons of the gas were released into the air. Nine people died, and 5,400 residents were forced to evacuate Graniteville.