When considering the New Manchester mill ruins at Sweetwater Creek State Park, many zero in on the fact the mill was destroyed by Union forces in July 1864, but the walls that remain are much older than the Civil War. The mill was constructed between 1845 and 1846 using bricks made nearby. The foundation stones were hauled up from the creek. When it opened it was, at five stories, the tallest building north of Macon at the time.
During the heyday of the Sweetwater Park Hotel in Lithia Springs, the mill ruins were quite a draw for tourists who flocked to the hotel. In 1894, Mrs. H.T. Blake, then the manager of the hotel, penned the following poem. I have located the poem in several newspapers all across the nation. I thought it would be appropriate to share the poem as Sweetwater Creek State Park holds a grand reopening of the mill ruins today from 12-4 p.m. Visitors can go inside the mill ruins free today during the event. Also, the Friends of Sweetwater Creek State Park will be holding a Candle Light Hike to the mill tonight at 6 p.m. at a cost of $5 per person which includes the lantern.
-- Lisa Cooper
THE OLD MILL
By H.T. Blake
Down by the Sweetwater, close to its shores,
Listening ever to ripple and roar;
Solemn, majestic, undaunted, alone,
I stand in my ruin, man's fault to condone.
Three decades since robbed of beauty and life,
My walls a grim proof of that sorrowful strife;
Stricken by war, unmourned I am left
Myself, my own monument, of old friends, bereft.
Fair Nature, while noting my look of decay
Has lent me kind aid in her bounteous way;
Her fond arms extended, in tender embrace,
With soft, clinging vines my wounds to efface.
By help of her forest, my rooms she doth fill,
While dear little song birds their sweet chorus trill
In branches o'er topping by loftiest height,
And I echo their music from morning till night.
Brave boys of the blue and the gray, come and go
And scan every crevice and the waters below;
Then gravely remark: "'Twas a terrible war,"
"And this old cotton mill remains a great scar."
The wind's howl and whistle and try all my strength;
Some fierce thunderstorm will destroy me at length,
But ere I am gone, may the good God above
Fill every man's heart with brotherly love.