Washington Mills, Mayodan


For many years, Washington Mills, later Tultex, was central to life in Mayodan, NC.  At it's peak in the 1950's, the mill employed 1,500 in a town of only 3,000.  The mill had its origin in 1896 when Colonel Francis Fries and W. C. Ruffin organized the Mayo Mills Company and built a mill on the banks of the Mayo River producing uncolored cotton yarn, and later adding a knitting mill producing men's underwear in "long-handled" and "red flannelled" styles.  In 1901, the Washington Mills Company was formed with the same management, and a spinning and weaving mill was built in Grayson County, Virginia on the banks of the New River.  By the early 1920's the two mills had merged into the Washington Mills Company.

In 1982, the mill was purchased by Tultex, a Martinsville, Virginia based textile company.  By December of 1999, unable to compete with cheap foreign production, the mill closed its doors and a piece of Mayodan history came to an end.

Click thumbnails for larger images 

Opening Room

Picker Room

Receiving Room

Knitting Room

Group Photo


Workers, c.1900

Stock Certificate

Carding Room

Combing Room

Cutting Room

Spinning Room

Group Photo

Mill Houses

Workers, c.1900

Stock Certificate

Sewing Room

Mayo Mills Band

circa 1950's ad

'Big Row' Houses

Group Photo

Little Spruce

Workers, c.1900

Mill Office

1956 Pay Stub



Pressing Department
 August, 1931

The James Library has acquired a large collection of badges once worn by the employees of Washington Mills.  Most of the workers are unidentified.  Help us preserve the history of the textile industry in Rockingham County by letting us know if you recognize any of the faces of the hard working employees of Washington Mills.  If you can identify any of the workers, contact Kim Shireman at 336-342-4261 ext. 2250, or shiremank@rockinghamcc.edu.  Click on the button below to see some of the faces of Washington Mills.

                                                                    click for mill badges