WESTERN ROCKINGHAM CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
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It all started with a mill. A group of men from Winston inaugurated plans to build a railroad through the Mayo River valley in 1883 from Salem, North Carolina to Roanoke, Virginia, to be known as the Roanoke and Southern Railroad. Construction began in 1887 under the direction of Francis Henry Fries, son of a Salem Textile manufacturer. The railroad was opened by January of 1892 at a cost of two million dollars, but was later sold to the Norfolk and Western Railroad Company.
While building the railroad, Colonel Fries became impressed by the geography surrounding the Dan and Mayo Rivers, running between two high ridges known as Baughn and Cedar Point Mountains. The falls in the Mayo River promised power for manufacturing and became a deciding factor in the plans of Colonel Fries, William C. Ruffin and Washington Duke to build a cotton mill along the railroad bed in 1892. Adopting the name Mayo Mills, operation began in April of 1896 with the manufacture of uncolored yarn.
Toward completion of the Mayo Mills, Colonel Fries cast his eyes up the river, two miles north, and soon began building a new mill and the new town of Avalon. This operation thrived until the late afternoon of June 15, 1911, when a machine caught fire. Efforts to save the mill were futile, due to failure of part of the water system, considered one of the best in the South. With the mill gone, Colonel Fries announced that Avalon would be relocated. The fifty or so dwellings were moved, one by one, on logs drawn by horses and mules to the Mayo Mills area.
Noteworthy to town history is the fact that Samuel P. Tesh came to the village in July of 1894 and finding no church, but feeling the need for a place to worship, enlisted the help of an acquaintance, Howard E. Rhondtaler, and held a worship service on the porch and yard of Higgins Boarding house. Later services were held in Ault’s Drug Store. From this beginning service, the Moravian Church was organized. Rhondtaler became the first pastor. Episcopal and other denominations were to follow.
Also noteworthy, the first public school was held in the Moravian Chapel in 1898 before Mayodan was chartered.
It was not until February 16, 1899, that Mayodan, named after the converging Mayo and Dan Rivers, was chartered as an incorporated town with 225 residents. As recognized in Ripley’s Believe It or Not, Mayodan is the only town in the world with that name!
In 1921 Colonel Fries merged the weaving mill at Fries, Virginia and the mill at Mayodan, N.C. to form the Washington Mills Company (later Tultex, was in operation until the year 1999). Currently the facility houses the new Riverside Center (Spruce Place, Inc.), an events center, which commemorated its grand opening with two events in November and December 2001.
Continuing to see changes and growth over the next fifty years, Mayodan has kept its reputation as a "mill town". Influential changes over past decades include the opening of Burlington Industries and Macfield, Inc (now Unifi, Inc.). New companies in the Mayodan area are Frontier Spinning, Inc., Remington Arms Company, McMichael Mills, Springwood Fabrics, and Medibeg USA.
Located 30 miles north of Greensboro and just south of the Virginia border, Mayodan is nestled in a valley along the Mayo River with an elevation of 640 feet. Mayodan operates under the Council/Manager form of government, led by a mayor and a five-member town council.
The Madison-Mayodan Recreation Department began in 1983 and was the first merged Recreation Department in the state of North Carolina. It is governed by a commission of three appointees from the town of Madison and three appointees from the town of Mayodan. With a staff of four full-time employees and many volunteers, Madison-Mayodan Recreation Department provides activities and events that include sports, education, and travel, along with recreation.
The Mayo River is one of the best whitewater rafting and canoeing rivers in the Piedmont. Farris Memorial Park offers softball and soccer fields, tennis courts, three covered pavilions, two lakes, paddleboats, miniature golf, volleyball, horseshoe pits, two playgrounds, an amphitheater, and walking trails.
Civic organizations include Rotary, Lions, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the Mayodan Preservation League. On September 8, 2001 the Mayodan Preservation League dedicated the town’s newest landmark – a street clock located outside the James A. Collins Municipal Building.
Residents describe Mayodan as a quiet, friendly place where everyone knows his neighbor and is willing to help in times of trouble. This trait was demonstrated after a tornado struck the town on March 20, 1998. Designated as a F3 storm at it’s peak, the tornado caused millions of dollars of damage along the its path. Crossing through the center of town, it started at the southwest edge of town and exited on the northeast side. Fortunately there were no deaths in Mayodan and no life-threatening injuries.
Mayodan has small town appeal with a population of 2,417. The Mayodan Preservation League has enjoyed years of growing success, sponsoring an annual "Mayodan Homecoming" for citizens and past residents of the town to walk down memory lane in the warm fellowship of friends. And as most hometown folks feel regarding their special little town, they wouldn’t trade it for the world.
Mayodan Town Council Meetings are held on
the second Monday of each month at 7 p.m.
Questions related to any of the above mentioned can be
directed to Town of Mayodan, 210 Main Street, Mayodan, NC
27027. Phone: (336) 427-0241.
WESTERN ROCKINGHAM CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
112 W. Murphy St., Madison, NC 27025
Phone: 336-548-6248 Fax: 336-548-4466
Anne Griffin - Executive Director
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