To preserve, protect, interpret and celebrate the unique contributions of the people and communities associated with the South’s textile industry by creating a 700-mile National Heritage Corridor—so that its culture and values are sustained and shared with the traveling public and future generations
To save the legacy stories of the region’s cotton mill people and its textile industry, to preserve the places where those stories unfolded and to better document this era of history in all its cultural dimensions
To promote economic development within the Corridor by attracting cultural heritage tourists and cultivating associated job-producing business and commerce
What is the Corridor?
The Southern Textile Heritage Corridor runs from Richmond, Virginiato Montgomery, Alabamawith I-85 as its backbone. A spur northward throughRockinghamCounty via US Hwy 29 toDanville,Virginia is also a part. This area still retains the largest concentration of textile manufacturing in the nation.
The Corridor includes many types of mill village and textile-related venues: museums, textile exhibits, renovated mills, intact mill villages, historic churches, music events, sports venues, festivals, authentic eating establishments and a myriad of cultural survivals and interpretive sites
Although most attractions are in counties no more than an hour’s drive in any direction from its main route, other Textile Trails will lead you to areas of further distance but great interest.
The majority of the region’s cotton mill people had their roots back across the Atlantic, most having come down theGreat Wagon RoadfromPennsylvaniato the South before the American Revolution. Their ancestors once spun linen, wool and cotton yarn and wove it into cloth on hand looms in log cabins. We seek to explore these artisanal roots in collaboration with existing historic sites.
There still exists a smaller but enlivened textile industry in the South today. Many firms have employed new technologies to find niches in the world market, still providing jobs to thousands. At this time, we know of no public tours of textile mills in the South.
Most early cotton mill were located in rural or semi-rural settings — many next to rivers and large streams at their falls. These natural and small man-made landscapes are treasured by their local communities and should be guarded by us all. Many mill towns are creating new greenways that preserve textile heritage alongside this beautiful natural scenery for visitors to enjoy.