Pacolet Flood Memorial
On June 6, 1903, a massive early-morning flood uprooted mill houses and swept hundreds of textile workers into the raging Pacolet River. An estimated 70 people died and five cotton mills were destroyed in the largest flood in South Carolina history. Thanks to the work of a visiting artist who created a memorial to the victims in 2011, you can now see exactly how high the river rose on that fateful day.
After three days of heavy rain, the flood struck the Converse mill just before sunrise. The mill and its giant smokestack, originally located down in the gorge, collapsed into the 40 mph current, and was swept under the trestle. The 1903 flood left a path of death and destruction over 12 miles; most of the bodies were never found. Six hundred people lost their homes in the mill communities of Converse, Clifton and Pacolet, and 4,000 people were without work for many months.
The 21-foot memorial, built to resemble a mill smokestack, rises in a small roadside park, accompanied by interpretive plaques about mill history and the Pacolet River watershed. The large mill you see on the hill above the monument—known as Converse Mill or Clifton No. 3—was rebuilt after the flood washed it into the river. It is the largest mill still standing in Spartanburg County.