The Fries Textile Mill: A beginning and an end
Col. Fries, along with some other rich and prominent men of the time, bought land around a bend in the New River near Galax, Virginia. Their goal was to build a cotton textile plant, which would create various kind of fabrics for sale. Fries used his political and social connections to bring the railroad out to his new town so that supplies could be shipped in and finished fabrics shipped out. For 85 years, the mill was the lifeblood of the region, creating jobs for thousands of people and bringing in capital.
However, it could not last forever. By 1988, increasing pressure from globalization and a series of absentee owners who did not update the mill to keep it competitive led to the mill shutting its doors for good. Production had been scaling back for years, but after 1988, the town was left without its main source of income.