Effects of the Tornado on Industry
The tornado strike, and the accompanying collapses and fires, heavily damaged industrial facilities in Gainesville and in nearby New Holland. Even worse was the extraordinarily high cost in human lives, especially at the Cooper Pants Factory.
Cooper Pants Factory
The Cooper Company produced pants and overalls in a two-story factory on the corner of West Broad and Maple Streets, just two blocks southwest of the public square. Many of the 125 factory workers, most of whom were young women and children, scurried to the basement for protection when the tornado struck. Tragically, the weakened building collapsed and burst into flames, trapping many and ultimately killing at least sixty workers.
This dramatic footage from film clip torn033 shows the smoldering ruins of Cooper Pants Factory – note the ghostly images of pants being tossed aside while men desperately looked for the trapped factory workers.
As the smoke cleared, and the search for victims continued, the extent of the terrible devastation became fully apparent, as depicted in this long pan of the Cooper site from film clip torn037.
Amid the debris of the collapsed Cooper building, victims were removed on stretchers, as captured in Vanishing Georgia image hal106.
Film clip torn035 shows National Guard soldiers carrying the bodies away from the tragic site of the former Cooper Pants Factory.
Vanishing Georgia image hal104 reveals a massive pile of pants left in wake of the destruction of the Cooper factory.
Pacolet Mill in New Holland
The devastating tornado continued beyond Gainesville, next striking New Holland, about two miles to the east, where it heavily damaged the massive Pacolet Mill, a major producer of textiles (as well as nearly 100 homes). Remarkably, no one in the mill was injured, as the workers saw the storm coming and evacuated from the upper floors, then ran to the building’s northeast end which remained intact after the tornado struck. (They knew where to take refuge as a result of an earlier tornado which struck in 1903, killing about 50 people in the mill.) After extensive repairs, Pacolet Mill resumed operation.
A partial five story collapse at Pacolet Mill, shown in Vanishing Georgia image hal064, reveals the severe structural damage the tornado imposed on the massive mill building.
Another view of Pacolet Mill, shown in Vanishing Georgia image hal065, depicts extensive roofing damage across various sections of the huge industrial facility.