||Bricks were brought in by rail from Rome for the completion of No. 3 Mill.
||The mill now has 50,016 spindles, 422 looms and employs 1,200 people. Article in The Summerville News on July 17th under the headlines: "The Pride of Chattooga County, Trion
Factory, Georgia, The Fourth Largest Mill in the State".
mill was in decline and forced into bankruptcy. Benjamin D. Riegel, a
New York businessman, and the Riegel group purchased all assets and
became the new owners. The name of the newly formed company was called
the Trion Company. Under Mr. Riegel’s guidance the mill and the town
once again began to flourish. The greatest period of growth for both
the mill and the town occurred through the efforts and vision of Mr.
Riegel. One touch of irony in all of this is that Mr. Riegel was 34
years old at the time ? the same age of Deforrest Allgood when he died.
For this writer, studying the personalities, character and ambitions of
the two men, it is almost as if Mr. Riegel took up the unfinished work
and dreams of Deforrest Allgood!
|1913 to 1934
face of Trion begins to change. Muddy streets become paved and better
housing is built for the employees. A large farm is put into production
on the many acres of land owned by the company. The small birch store,
substantial though dingy became a modern Department Store (The Big
Friendly). A beautiful plaza was built in front of the store. The row
of brick apartments along Park Avenue was built. An outdoor pool was
built on the south side of the river that was later covered over by a
large building known as the “Y”. The “Y” housed the pool, a library, a
gymnasium, a bowling alley, a theater, a billiard room, dressing rooms
and a snack bar. The hospital was built. A glove mill was added in
1931, employing over 900 young girls. This addition prompted the
building of Leila Riegel Hall in 1934. This building was built as a
dormitory to accommodate any single girls working for the company.
Later the building became the Trion Inn. One of the most modern dairies
in the South was built in 1934. The golf course and the Lodge were also
built during this period of growth. All of this speaks volumes about
the keen business sense and determination of Benjamin D, Riegel. Our
country was in the midst of the Great Depression. In other parts of the
country there were bread lines, former businessmen selling pencils on
street corners and even suicides over the sad state of financial
affairs. The famous humorist, Will Rogers remarked, “We are the first
country in the history of the world to go to the poor house in an
automobile!” Mr. Riegel, the mill and the people of Trion refused to
participate in the Great Depression.
1934 marked the 3rd closing
of the plant for any length of time. Throughout the South unions were
making a strong push to organize factories and mills. “Flying
Squadrons” of union activists were sent into mill communities to gain
support. The large group of employees working in Trion was high on
their list. Led by a group of people from the Rome Foundry, along with
some local people, a mob literally tried to take over the mill. Trion’s
Chief of Police, Mr. Hix, was killed attempting to protect the mill.
Others that had come on to work that day were beaten or roughed up.
Eventually the National Guard was called in. The mill remained closed
for approximately six weeks.
Riegeldale Tavern, one of the few buildings other than mill additions
remaining from the era of rapid growth was constructed in the summer.
What started off as an idea for a roadside stand to sell dairy and farm
products along highway 27 became one of the most beautiful and best
places to eat in the South. Amazingly, the Tavern was built in six
weeks in order to be ready for Mr. Riegel’s Guernsey Field Day. The
cost of construction was $32,000. In the fall construction of the
beautiful gardens began and was completed in the spring of 1937. Cost
of the gardens was $36,000. Mr. L.C. “Sadd” Dalton, Engineer and
Construction Superintendent for the company was the mastermind behind
the construction. He also built the hospital, the “Y”, Leila Riegel
Hall and Trion High School in 1938.
||Finishing Plant constructed adding 200 more employees.
||Mr. Benjamin D. Riegel died on November 6th. John L. Riegel, his cousin took charge.
prestigious Army-Navy E Award was presented to the Trion Company and
its employees. The presentation was a grand affair with many radio
stations covering the speeches live and newspapers devoting several
pages to the coverage. One of the three employees chosen to accept the
award on behalf of all employees was J. M. Wooten. The following is a
portion of Mr. Wooten’s eloquent address: “It is with great pride, yet
humbly, that we, the employees of Trion, accept this award which
represents a hard job well done on our part as well as the part of the
management. We will wear our pins proudly and we will work harder than
ever to prove that these symbols of our efficiency have been honestly
earned…We are glad that we have done the job as well as they say we
have but I do not need to say that any time Uncle Sam needs us, the
people of Trion will not falter but will cooperate to the fullest
extent in order that liberty and freedom in this country will march on
forever.” During World War II, the mill produced 50 million yards of
herringbone for use in making fighting uniforms. The Finishing Plant
finished 58 billion yards of herringbone. The herringbone finished at
Trion would have been enough fabric to make 10,500,000 fatigue suits;
enough to outfit the entire U.S. Army! 4 million yards of tent twill
was produced by the mill and the Finishing Plant finished over 7
million yards of tent twill. The mill produced over 7 ½ million yards
of material for gun patches and over 2 ½ billion gun patches were
produced by the Glove Mill. Placed end to end, the patches would reach
107,322 miles! The Glove Mill also produced over 7 ½ million dozen
gloves for the armed forces. That is 180 million individual gloves!
expense was spared in the celebration of Trion's 100 years of
existence. People were hired from New York to produce a Centennial
Pageant. Thousands watched the impressive event. It was covered by
several area newspapers.
|1946 to 1950
Trion Company and Ware Shoals Manufacturing Company incorporated as
Riegel Textile Corporation. Mill Village houses are sold to
individuals. Over 5,000 are employed in Trion.
|1951 to 1960
||Various machinery upgrades and mill expansions are made.
||On August 24th, Riegel stock traded on New York Stock Exchange at 20-1/8.
|1971 to 1976
An indigo range, eleven rebeamers, two sanforizers (pre-shrinking
machines) and a finishing range were installed in the mill at the
beginning of 1971 for the production of denim. On April 20th the first
loom began to weave the blue fabric. This loom was producing DDB a 14
ounce, heavyweight denim. By October of 1973 400 looms were producing
denim. 700 looms were producing denim by November of the following
year. In July of 1975 another indigo dye range was added, followed by
the addition of nine more rebeamers in November. On June 5, 1976 1,100
looms were churning out the blue fabric. An ammonia range was installed
in 1976 to finish the denim with a unique finish called “Sanforset”.
Two more sanforizers were added in the fall of the same year to handle
the growing production of and demand for Trion denim. The growth of
denim production in this five year period is nothing short of
Mr. W. E. Reid, one of the most dynamic textile
leaders I have ever had the pleasure of meeting, made the decision to
change mill production to denim. Many looked at this decision with
skepticism. History has shown that this single decision has been the
best decision made for the Trion mill and its people since Marsh,
Allgood and Briars decided to locate their small mill here in 1845. Mr.
Harold Peek was given the task of transforming a mill that had produced
greige fabrics for almost 130 years into a producer of yarn dyed fabric
called denim. He was more than up for the task. The idea of Bill Reid
combined with the experience, know-how, determination and just plain
old common sense of Harold Peek gave us one of the greatest success
stories in modern textile history!
|1978 to 1984
||The shuttles are gone! In June
of 1978 the installation of Sulzer projectile looms began.
These wide looms were capable of producing two rolls of denim
at each loom. By 1982 200-130 inch Sulzers were in production
along with 175-153 inch Sulzers. In 1980 a wash range was
installed to over dye denim. During this same time period
(March of 1981 through March of 1984) the Spinning Room was
converted from ring spinning frames to open end spinning frames
with 48 frames originally installed.
B. Pamplin Sr., one of the three original founders of Georgia Pacific,
purchases Riegel Textile Corporation. After retiring, Mr. Pamplin was
in excellent health and still possessed his strong interest and insight
in business dealings. He had previously served on the Board of
directors for Mount Vernon Mills and shortly after his retirement
purchased the company. He then discovered an opportunity to acquire
another textile company, Riegel. At this time Mr. Pamplin was not the
only person keeping an eye on Riegel stock. Mrs. German H. H. Emory,
daughter of Benjamin D. Riegel was the major stockholder. After more
than one offer to sell her stock, she chose to sell her holdings to Mr.
Pamplin. Her decision was not a monetary one. Others had offered her
more for her stock than Mr. Pamplin. She based her decision to sell on
the fact the she believed that Mr. Pamplin would be the best person to
guide the company and take care of the employees and the communities in
which they worked. She saw in Mr. Pamplin the same qualities she saw in
her father. Mrs. Emory proved to be an excellent judge of character.
February 16th the “Hundred Year Flood” hit Trion. People were evacuated
from homes, cars and houses were damaged or destroyed and the water had
filled the mill basement and was lapping on the warps in the Weave
Room. Water was above electric motors and other valuable electronic
equipment. CNN and all the other major networks rolled into town
followed closely by the Red Cross. The very thing that once powered all
the machinery in the mill a century before was now threatening to
destroy it. The cleanup was a monumental task. Amazingly, the mill only
stood silent for 10 days. Many, many people worked tirelessly to
restore the mill to operating order.
major modernization project began and was wisely planned in phases,
starting with the mill’s greatest needs for improvement. The
modernization spanned several years. The first phase began in two
areas: Opening/Carding and Denim Dyeing. New cards and opening
equipment was added along with the construction of a new building for
indigo dyeing and rebeaming. New dye ranges (the largest in the world
at the time) were purchased and installed in the newly built facility.
Additional phases would include further modernization in
Opening/Carding, Spinning and Weaving along with a new distribution
||In a publication by Sulzer Ruti, under the heading Mount Vernon Trion, Georgia: The World's Largest Projectile Weaving Mill,
Mr. Harold Peek is quoted as saying, "The best people and the best
machinery make the best fabric. We control everything right here. Yarn,
fabric, and finishing are all within minutes of my office."
Daughters of the Confederacy, Preservation of Records and Historical
Spots erected an historical marker proclaiming the mill "Oldest Textile
Mill in Northwest Georgia".
||Mount Vernon was given the prestigious honor of being declared "Model Mill" by Textile World,
an international trade publication read all over the world. This is the
equivalent of winning an "Oscar" in the movie industry or being World
Champions in sports.
the modernization plan that began in 1991 now complete, the mill has
the most modern equipment available in the world. The mill has
1,100,000 square feet of manufacturing space, consumes 2,500,000 pounds
of cotton each week (3,500 acres) and produces 2,700,000 square yards
of denim each week (over 850 miles). Denim is shipped to several
locations in the United States as well as many foreign countries on a
weekly basis. The company is debt free and has the best workforce in
the textile industry. Quoting Mr. Roger Chastain, President of Mount
Vernon: “If there is only one denim mill left in this country, we
intend it to be this one!”
Many changes have taken place since
the little mill on the bank of the river was constructed in 1845.
Science has given us electricity, the automobile, the train, airplanes
and the computer. The mill has survived war, floods and fire. Buildings
have come and gone. People have come and gone. A lot has happened in
160 years. The one constant through it all, the one constant that has
made this mill a survivor is the spirit of the people of Trion.