Clifton and Pacolet, SC Cloudburst Causes Flooding, June 1903
At 6 o'clock this morning it was noticed that the water was rising rapidly in the Pacolet River, but no special importance was attached to it by the mill operatives, who began to form in line to enter the mills. At Mills Nos. 1 and 2 the water pressure soon became dangerous, the boiler rooms were submerged, and the workmen were ordered back. A little later the fury of the raging river struck Mill No. 1, sweeping the plant entirely away. The strong current then swept against No. 2, demolishing that mill and leaving only the cloth room standing.
The big bridge over the Pacolet River, a steel structure, was then carried away by the flood, which had burst through the dams. The warehouse, with nearly 3,500 bales of cotton and 4,000 bales of domestic cloth followed, all the cotton being carried down stream. At Pacolet Mill No. 3, one half the picker room and five stories on the left side of the long building were washed away. The main building, supported by a thick brick wall, is still standing, but is very shaky and may collapse at any time. The boiler room is gone, but the smokestack is yet standing. The dam at No. 3 is intact. All the machinery in this mill is ruined.
At Glendale, four warehouses filled with cotton and cotton products were swept away, along with the dam across Lawson's Fork and the trestle of the City Electric Railway. The mill at Glendale was not materially damaged.
At Converse, the main building of the Clifton factory collapsed, and the matter[sic] rose till the second floor of the mill was four feet deep -- forty or fifty feet above the ordinary water mark. The Converse Mill is utterly demolished, nothing standing except the picker room building, which is badly wrecked. The Clifton Mill No. 3 also lost its boiler room, machine shop, engine room, and smokestack.
The Whitney mills on Lawson's Fork were damaged by the heavy rise of the water, and some houses and a steel bridge at that point were swept away. At the Tueapau Mills the water rose to the second floor of the building and considerably damaged the machinery.
One of the great mills at Clifton, the Converse, founded by and named in honor of the founder of Converse College for Women of this city, which is a 51,000 spindle concern, capitalized at more than $1,000,000, was reported destroyed at one time, but a telegram from MR. TWICHELL to F. J. PELZER of Charleston, the head of the great cotton milling corporations at Pelzer, S. C., says that the main structure is still intact.
Scores of homes at Clifton have been wrecked, and at least 4,000 persons who worked in the mills are in a pitiable condition, with all their household effects either completely ruined or rendered almost valueless, and a long period of idleness before them.
Pacolet and Clifton are situated in the defiles of two valleys, and most of the homes of the operators were located near the mills, where the destructive power of the flood was greatest. These people are in dire need of assistance now, and a relief committee, of which the Rev. W. J. SNYDER is at the head, has been appointed to receive and turn over money, food, or clothing sent for the sufferers.
The damage in other parts of the county will also reach a great figure. Every bridge on the main line of the Southern Railway in this couty is reported washed away, telegraph and telephone wires are down, while the bridge over the Enoree River, along the banks of which, near the station of Enoree, and situated the Enoree cotton mills, has been carried away. That stream has also overflown its banks, and it is feared great damage will be done.
It was hardly more than a decade ago that Spartanburg was simply one of the smaller townships of upper South Carolina. Then came the great cotton milling movement, and the county, owing to its magnificent natural water power, secured the very cream of the investments. Mill after mill was built along the banks of its rivers until to-day millions of dollars are invested.
Fire insurance was carried on the ruined mills, but whether they were insured against loss by flood is not known. That every one of the mills will be rebuilt at once is the general belief in the city tonight.
The New York Times New York 1903-06-07