Alamance County, North Carolina was formed on January 29th 1849, and has been the county of significant historical events, various textiles, many manufacturing plants and lots of agriculture for the state of NC. The county seat of Alamance County is Graham. Alamance County covers an area of 435 sq. miles. Alamance County got it’s name from the Great Alamance Creek, which was the site of the Battle of Alamance on May 16th 1771. According to the legends, the Great Alamance Creek were named in honor of a local Native American word used to describe the blue mud that was found at the bottom of the creek. Yet other legends will tell you that the name came from another Native American word which meant noisy river or perhaps the Alemammi region of Rhineland, Germany, as this was where many of the early settlers had come from.
Several small battles took place in the area such as the Battle of Guilford Courthouse, Pyle’s Massacre, Battle of Lindley’s Mill and the Battle of Clapp’s Mill. It was during the early part of the 19th century that the textile industry grew very heavily in the area. Between 1840 and 1880, over 14 mills had begun operations, which were powered by the aforementioned rivers. One of these mills owned by Copland Industries is still in operation to this day, which makes it the oldest continuously operating mill in the entire state of North Carolina.
You might remember hearing the words, Alamance Plaids or Glencoe Plaids, these two materials are used in everything from clothing to tablecloths and were initiated here in Alamance County, NC, at the factory that was operated by Burlington Industries that was based in Burlington, NC. This is just one of the industries that started the textile boom for Alamance County. During this time as well, because of the booming economy in the textile industry, the railroad was built to link between Raleigh and Greensboro. Many of the textiles shipped were moved by these rails to other parts.
Alamance County was at one time the state leader in dairy production. There were many dairy farmers including Melville Dairy in Burlington which produced the states dairy products; however a slump in the market on milk prices, forced most of the dairy farms to be sold and the area was then developed for real estate purposes. Other industries began to operate in Alamance County during WWII. Fairchild built airplanes on the eastern side of Burlington which included the AT-21 gunner, used to train bomber pilots. Near to the Fairchild plant was another plant called Western Electric, which was used to build radar equipment, guidance systems for missiles, and many other electronics used for the government, including the guidance system for the Titan missile. This plant closed its doors in 1992 and sat abandoned until 2005, when it was purchased by a local businessman for other manufacturing purposes.