Randolph County, North Carolina is split by Deep River, a large river that feeds into the Cape Fear basin and runs eventually into the Atlantic Ocean at Wilmington. In the late 1830’s, the first cotton mill in Randolph County was opened at Cedar Falls. That mill ran continuously until the end of the 20th century, something over 150 years, powered originally by the river directly and later by a hydroelectric plant. During the Civil War, most of the cotton fabric that uniformed North Carolina’s troops was produced in that mill. Today, the main mill building lies idle and vacant as does the old post office across the road (shown). A wooden trestle that served the railroad that ran behind the post office is long gone as is the railroad track and right of way. Down the road, there is another mill that still manages to cling to life, for a while anyway.
Cedar Falls is one of several mill villages along Deer River that were once the life blood of the county’s economy. Most of the other mills are either gone or closed down as well, victims of the movement of the American textile industry to foreign shores. There are Randleman, Worthville, Central Falls, Cedar Falls, Franklinville, Ramseur and Coleridge. All of these villages used the power of the river to employ hundreds of people. All gone now, except the ghosts of the buildings and no one knows how long even they will survive.