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“O” is for Olympia Cotton Mill

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“O” is for Olympia Cotton Mill. Olympia Cotton Mill was one of four mills designed and built in Columbia between 1895 and 1904 by the industrialist W.B. Smith Whaley. The main building was approximately 150 feet by 550 feet and housed just over 100,000 spindles. During the first years of the twentieth century, Olympia was frequently lauded as “the world’s largest cotton mill under one roof.” By 1907 the mill’s weave room housed 2,250 looms. It had its own coal-fired electrical plant that supplied electricity for all Whaley’s mills. Whaley was forced to sell his mills in 1911 and they were resold in 1916 to Pacific Mills. In 1954 Burlington Industries purchased the entire Pacific Mills chain and operated Olympia for another forty years. After a disastrous fire, Olympia Mill closed in June 1996.

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Dr. Walter Edgar has two programs on South Carolina Public Radio: Walter Edgar's Journal, and South Carolina from A to Z. Dr. Edgar received his B.A. degree from Davidson College in 1965 and his Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina in 1969. After two years in the army (including a tour of duty in Vietnam), he returned to USC as a post-doctoral fellow of the National Archives, assigned to the Papers of Henry Laurens.