July 15, 2007

3-block fire

Filed under: Bridges, Roads, RRs & Transport — lessie @ 3:39 am

Anderson Cotton Mills burned Friday. I first heard about it on the evening news. They say it burned three city blocks — the mill complex was that big. I was surprised I saw nor smelled smoke, as I live just a handful of miles from West Whitner where the mill is located.

The mill has been closed since the early 1980’s, which is probably why the complex is so covered in kudzu. Driving by the mill a while back, I snapped a pic of one of the mill towers. The ornate brick detailing just screamed age. I tried to find out through word-of-mouth what the name of the mill was, but didn’t have much luck. Turns out Anderson Cotton Mills, built in 1888, has a prominent spot in Anderson history.

In 1895, William C. Whitner’s hydro-electric power plant, built miles outside of town, was the first in the Southeast to transmit electricity over long-distant power lines. It lit the city and some small industries. Through this engineering feat, Whitner earned Anderson its nickname “the Electric City.” In 1897 Whitner constructed a larger plant at Portman Shoals that supplied power to the Anderson Cotton Mills and an electric car line.

I didn’t rubber neck by the mill on Friday night — on one level, I didn’t want to contribute to a probably chaotic situation. On another level, I was just too chicken. It was dark after all. I finally got out there Saturday morning. Driving around the mill complex (along with many other cars) my eyes burned, though only a small portion was still emitting smoke. I can’t imagine what the firefighters endured. I ran into a photographer from the Anderson-Independent, and he said the smoke wasn’t what was so bad, it was the heat. Naturally he was further away than the firefighters and more lightly dressed. They climbed tall ladders close to hot flames, in heavy coats, lifting heavy equipment. In the S.C. heat.

A few other pictures of the mill are here.



  1. I like how you got the train tracs in this photo. They draw the eye into the scene. When I saw the thumbprint on the DP porthole, I didnt realize there was smoke! I posted a railway photo and your tracks caught my eye!
    Have a good Sunday.

    Comment by susan — July 15, 2007 @ 7:30 am

  2. It is such a shame to see the Anderson Cotton Mill burn in this day and age of renovation. However, from looking at your photos I see the building was in sad shape to begin with. So it was most likely not a candidate for renovation … Good for you to not rubber necking.

    Comment by denton — July 15, 2007 @ 12:32 pm

  3. Nice with a history lesson now and then. Shame about the fire. I liked the architecture of the tower

    Comment by Stefan jansson — July 16, 2007 @ 9:04 am

  4. What a shame. I enjoyed reading your story of what happened. Our firefighters are very important to our safety.

    Comment by lavenderlady — July 16, 2007 @ 4:48 pm

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