•Vestiges of Anderson Cotton Mill•
I have been to Anderson many times. When I first learned to drive Anderson was my favorite place to go. I can’t tell you how many times I have been to their mall or walked through downtown. Coming from a small town, Anderson was an exciting and big place. So it was very unnerving for me when I discovered these ruins were just a few blocks away. How I managed to avoid and ignore them for so long is baffling.
When I hear of a place called “The Electric City” I imagine a metropolis of highrise neon lights. A place lit up by greens and bright pinks all throughout the night. Anderson is not any brighter by day or night than any other city of equal size. For many years I found it amusing that they would claim such a title. I had no clue to the history that surrounded the name.
You might be wondering what any of this has to do with the ruins I am showing you. Bare with me for just a little longer. The truth is that Anderson really was The Electric City. Today every home, business, and street light has electricity, but it wasn’t always that way. Anderson was one of the very first cities in the Southeast to change all that. A fellow by the name of Whitner started a hydroelectric plant that changed this town’s way of life.
Whitner’s power station supplied enough electricity to power homes, businesses, streetlights, and the most relevant of all: Anderson Cotton Mill. This was the first cotton mill in Anderson City and the first cotton mill operated by electricity from long distance power lines. So while that might not seem like much to us now, it was a game changer back then.
Walking through the rubble, I had a very difficult time imagining what the original mill might have looked like. Today very little remains and nature is reclaiming what is left. It feels me with deep melancholy to see the past abandoned. Lying in a state of decay, a blight on the landscape that most wish forgotten.
The weeds reached four feet and higher as I waded through to see what endured. Most of the mill is gone today. Only a few towers and crumbling walls stand. This is not the sort of place you should play. As I surveyed what remained, I wished I could have learned more about what it was like to work here. I do know that Anderson Cotton Mill was founded in 1888 and renamed Abney Mills in 1942. The mill would operate for over a century and close in 1991. That is the extent of what I have learned.
I wish more could have been done to preserve this historic site. I found no markers or memorials to commemorate what once stood on these grounds. Even with that being the case, Anderson will always be one of my fondest places to go. I really look forward to journaling the Christmas lights this year for you.
#74 on the Adventure Map
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