Clifton Manufacturing Company

Clifton Manufacturing Company
Item# 4584

Clifton Manufacturing Company was incorporated in Spartanburg County, South Carolina on January 19, 1880.  Mills at this time were normally built along rivers where a change in slope gave opportunity to harness water power. With prior experience downstream on the Pacolet River, Edgar Converse, a native of Swanton, Vermont, organized cotton mill at Hurricane Shoals.  The noted engineering firm of Lockwood Greene was selected to design the mill.  Clifton Mill No. 1 (named for the cliffs overlooking the Pacolet), began manufacturing in 1881 with 7,000 spindles, 144 looms and 600 operatives, who lived in the nearby mill village.

The company prospered and authorized another mill in August 1887.  The new mill, named Clifton No. 2 was located just downriver on Cannon’s Shoals.  Construction began in 1888 and began production in 1889 with 21,512 spindles, a three-fold increase over No. 1.  Early products for these mills included sheeting, drills, and print cloth.

In May 1895, management authorized a third mill to be located just north of mill No. 1.  This mill, Clifton No. 3, would have 34,944 spindles and 1092 looms.   Albert H. Twichell succeeded Edgar Converse as president of Clifton Manufacturing upon the death of Mr. Converse in May, 1899. Clifton No. 3 opened in 1900.

A devastating flood on June 6, 1903 tore through the valley and caused havoc.  One witness said of Clifton No. 3, “The five-story, 50,000-spindle mill trembled for a while, then gave way, a wall of water rose 40 feet in minutes.  Mill No. 1 was next in line.  The entire mill village within 100 feet of the river was destroyed.  One-third of the mill disappeared.  When the water reached No. 2, it took away half the four-story mill.” The mills were eventually rebuilt and in some cases relocated to higher ground.

When Twichell died in 1916, J. Choice Evins (who has signed this piece) became President.  Stanley Converse became President in 1945. The company expanded in 1949, 1952, and again in 1957.  Dan River Mills bought Clifton Manufacturing in 1965 and began shutting down the mills in 1968.  Tuscarora Yarns purchased No. 2 in 1983 and operated there into the 1990s.  The mills closed and demolition began in 2002.

Close Up of Vignette:

Certificate: Capital Stock Certificate, issued in the 1920’s

Printer: Young & Selden Co., Baltimore

Dimensions: 7 1/4” (h) x 12 1/2” (w)

State: SC-South Carolina

Subject Matter: Textiles and Related

Vignette Topic(s): Stately Buildings | Body Adornments

Condition: Vertical fold lines, punch hole and stamp cancels in the signature areas and body, and some toning and edge faults from age.

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