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This article is from the Encyclopedia of North Carolina edited by William S. Powell. Copyright © 2006 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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Great Falls Mills

by John L. Bell, 2006Great Falls Mill Ruin, Rockingham, North Carolina, 1961.

Great Falls Mills, chartered by the North Carolina General Assembly on 10 Apr. 1869, was located in Rockingham (Richmond County) at the falls of Falling Creek and along railroads lines from Wilmington, Charlotte, and Rutherfordton. The company acquired its property in November 1868 from the Richmond Manufacturing Company, whose textile mill had been burned by Union general William T. Sherman's troops in March 1865 near the end of the Civil War. The superintendents' and workers' houses, storehouses, and a church survived. Walter Francis Leak, John Wall Leak, and Robert Leak Steele rebuilt the textile mill, acquired by Claude Gore in 1901. The mill engaged in the whole manufacturing process, from carding and spinning to dyeing and weaving. When it closed in 1930, the facility included a five-story building, a dye house, 6 warehouses, 2 office buildings, 42 spinning frames, and 205 looms. The mill burned in 1972, but much of the ruins remained.


James E. and Ida C. Huneycutt, A History of Richmond County (1976).

Image Credit:

Great Falls Mill Ruin, Rockingham, North Carolina, 1961. Image courtesy of NCSU libraries. Available from (accessed October 3, 2012).

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