Swepsonville North Carolina
Since 1790 Swepsonville has been the site of one sort of mill or another. Several damns have been built on the Haw river at Swepsonville over the last 200 years - all with the purpose of diverting water into a power canal/mill race to turn a wheel and power milling machinery. The first mills in Swepsonville were grist mills built to grind corn/flour. In 1868 the first cotton mill was built in Swepsonville. That mill burned down in 1880 and a mill replacing it burned again in 1892. A Larger cotton mill was built after the fire in 1893 which was named Virginia Mills. Virginia Mills was the main source of employment in Swepsonville until it closed in 1970. The ruins pictured here are of that 1893 mill. Virginia Mills was mostly destroyed by a fire in 1989. The remaining, standing sections of the mill have been slowly demolished over the years. The town of Swepsonville eventually acquired the bank-owned property and plans to convert it into a park. At this point the only structures that remain on the site are the power house and offices. Part of the site is being used by the town of Swepsonville but the rest is open to explore. Traces of some of the older damns and canals can still be seen along the river.
Swepsonville was never very large and never developed much of a commercial district. There are many standing turn of the century mill houses in various states of preservation in town. There are several other old textile mills and mill-towns near Swepsonville. The town of Haw River is immediately (5 miles) upstream on the Haw. Saxapahaw is 7 miles downstream. In Saxapahaw the old mill has been successfully converted into condominiums with a ballroom for events. Shops and restaurants serve that now thriving village. Further down stream on the Haw is the old mill town Bynum. The tiny village of Bellemont with it's ruined mill are a few miles West of Swepsonville. The larger textile manufacturing centers of Burlington and Graham are 5 miles Northwest of Swepsonville. At this point Swepsonville is being gradually absorbed into the sprawling metropolitan areas of Burlington and Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill that surround it.