I visited another mill yesterday in Randolph County, but this time the circumstances were more unfortunate than usual. The Franklinsville Manufacturing Company, also known as the Franklinville Mill built in 1838 and the oldest water powered cotton mill left in North Carolina was heavily damaged by a fire, probably caused by arson. I met Mac Whatley of the Randolph Heritage Conservancy who owns the mill and had hoped to preserve and restore the most historic parts into a museum. Mac showed me around and the damage was pretty extensive. A very old 3 story part of the structure was destroyed. Fortunately, a portion of the mill housing a large number of historic textile artifacts was saved and they are being moved to safer storage. Old buildings like this probably don’t seem important to most people, but the cotton textile industry was at one time the backbone of the local Randolph County economy and Deep River was lined with similar facilities. The most historic of those mills deserve to be preserved and the loss of this one in Franklinville is particularly painful. For more information on the history of the mill, go to http://www.cottonmillmuseum.org.