Though the old mill was destroyed by fire in 2004, this spot—with its Gothic-looking towers, waterfalls, rusty old bridge, and 1902 mill office—is an amazing place for a walk through history. You can easily spend an hour here, wandering a trail along the river, stepping out on the shoals, and reading interpretive plaques about the history of the Glendale mill community.
The first cotton mill at Glendale was built by a medical doctor, James Bivings, who bought 750 acres along Lawson’s Fork Creek in 1834. He brought a small crew of skilled machinists from Lincolnton, N.C., to start the Bivingsville Cotton Manufacturing Co. At the time, it was the largest cotton mill in the area and represented a milestone in the development of the local textile industry. The mill ran by water power over the dam. The Bivings family built a large home with two-story porticos on the front and back; it still stands, unoccupied, on high ground above the mill site. During the Civil War, the factory made shoes for Confederate soldiers.
When the mill burned, Wofford College stepped in to preserve the mill office. Today it houses the Goodall Environmental Studies Center, which operates a working garden, vineyard and small amphitheater. A half-mile walking trail starts here, where you can follow the route of the circa-1900 trolley that ran from downtown Spartanburg through Glendale to the next village, Clifton.
Cross the old bridge over the river and you’ll see a monument to the ironworks industry of the 1700s as well as the crumbling Glendale movie house, and a giant magnolia blossom sculpture erected to celebrate the river’s role in the local community.