Death of a Mill Town


This photograph depicts the fire at the textile mill in Avalon, N.C. on June 11, 1911. I had never heard of Avalon and so turned to the handy North Carolina Gazetteer to figure out exactly where it is. Or, in this case, was. The story of Avalon gives us a sense of just how important the local mill was to early 20th-century North Carolinians. The fire was a disaster, damaging the mill well beyond any point where it could have been repaired. With the primary engine of their economy gone, the people of Avalon, located in Rockingham County, loaded around sixty houses, a Moravian church, a school, and a company store onto horse-drawn rollers and moved the whole town two miles west to Mayodan.