News Stories & Columns
Haynes’ Cliffside Dream Survives
Haynes’ Cliffside Dream Survives
By Jim White
Shelby Star Staff Writer
March 14, 1997
The year was 1899, and textiles were rapidly becoming an important part of Rutherford County’s economy.
A young man with a vision of owning his own mill saw the area now known as Cliffside as the ideal location.
Raleigh Rutherford Haynes was already a pioneer in the textile industry, having been instrumental in the building of the Henrietta Mill, the Caroleen Mill and the Florence Mill in Forest City. But he dreamed of building a mill town that would be his alone.
The purchase of the land for Haynes’ mill is a story within itself, but dates are hazy at best.
According to an personal account written in the early 1980s by lifelong Cliffside resident Mabel Bridges Cargill, the land belonged to a family named Haney.
One of the Haney sons had been jailed in the county seat for the freeing of a slave,” Cargill recounted. The Haney boy escaped from jail and fled to Kentucky, where he married and raised a family under an assumed name.
On his deathbed, he confessed to his family about his real name and told them about land back in Rutherford County that belonged to them.
One of Haney’s daughters traveled to North Carolina and sold the majority of the land to a Haynes associate, Dr. T.B. Lovelace.
Haynes bought the land in 1899 and began construction on the Cliffside Mill. But machinery and materials were difficult to get to the mill site from the railroad, Seaboard Air Lines, some three miles away.
Everything had to be unloaded at the railroad and transported by mule-drawn wagon to the mill.
The mill was completed in 1902, and the first material that passed out of its doors was gingham.
By all accounts, Haynes provided for his employees in every conceivable manner.
The homes he built for them were considered very nice for the time. Three churches, Methodist, Baptist and Presbyterian, were built. And a school was set up in a section of the mill.
The school at the mill soon proved to be inadequate and was moved into the town hall until a proper school house could be completed.
Out of concern for the cultural growth of his community, Haynes scheduled programs from the Lyceum Theatrical Co. Weekly ice cream suppers during the summer and oyster stew dinners in the winter also gave the residents a chance to socialize.
Sunday afternoon performances by the Cliffside Renown Band were looked forward to by all.
The town continued to grow with the addition of a park as well as a building that housed a department store, a drug store and offices for doctors and even a dentist.
Haynes also conceived of the idea to build a railroad from Cliffside to connect with the Seaboard junction. While the official name was the Cliffside Railroad, it quickly became known as the “Dummy Train.”
Haynes passed away Feb. 6, 1917, at his second home in St. Petersburg, Fla. And while his death marked the end of an era, his ideas and plans continued to flourish.
His son Charles saw to the completion of a building that for years housed a library, game rooms, a gymnasium, kitchens and even bedrooms that could be rented to visitors to the community.
The R.R. Haynes Memorial Building has since been demolished, but the clock that topped it for many years was added to the R.R. Haynes Memorial Tower that stands today.
Today, Cliffside is the home of Cone Mills, a leader in the textile industry. And the quiet, little community still holds dear. the ideals and visions of Raleigh Rutherford Haynes.
Clipping provided by Phillip White. Reprinted with permission from The Shelby Star. Copyright owned by The Shelby Star.