#130 Stirling Water-tube Boilers


Oldest existing steam generator in a US cotton mill


Two Stirling water-tube boilers, built and installed in 1906, are among the oldest existing steam generators in a cotton mill in this country. The Crown Cotton Mills, now named the Elk Cotton Mill, was the first major industrial plant in Cross Plains, Georgia, now known as Dalton. Textile manufacturing had established itself throughout towns from North Carolina to Alabama after the International Cotton Exposition in Atlanta in 1880, when the Southern economy needed revitalization. As a center for cotton growers, cattle ranchers, and grain farmers, Dalton was called the New Egypt.

Alan Stirling (1844-1927) designed his first boiler in 1883 and, in 1888, established the Stirling Boiler Company in New York City. He patented the Stirling four-drum boiler in 1892 and then the bent-tube steam boiler in 1893. Water-tube boilers were of value in low-headroom conditions to produce continuous and economical production of steam even when using poor feedwater or under sudden load swings. Babcock and Wilcox, which had introduced safety boilers in 1867, purchased the Stirling Boiler Company in 1906, initiating the mass production of B&W bent-tube boilers at Stirling's plant in Barberton, Ohio. Designated by the Atlanta Section.

Aerial View of Crown America today


Plaque wording:
Stirling Water Tube Boilers, 1906, Dalton, Georgia

These boilers are among the oldest extant steam generators in a cotton mill in the nation and are representative of steam boiler design in the early years of the 20th century. They provide steam for the Crown Cotton Mills, which were a significant factor in the industrial growth of Dalton, Georgia.

Designated 1987, October 14.

300 hp, coal-fired, hand-fed, grate consumed. Three steam drums, one mud drum. Working pressure 180 psi, testing at 270 psi. Maximum height 20 fet 10 inches (actual 20 feet 8 1/4 inches). Designated to provide steam volume and pressure to operate a Hamilton compound engine; a Fleming high-speed engine; electric generator; fire pump; related belts, pulleys, and shafts. Operated from 1906 to 1975 to power mill machines. Operated from 1975 to 1986 to supply mill heat. Placed in standby service in 1986.

Comments from Visitors/Members:
1994 Survey: Bobby Green: Proclamation by the Governor of Georgia (Frank Harris) at headquarters.

Notes: The site does not get many visitors. Because it is several miles (100) away, I asked David Hamilton and George Hamilton, whom I have met before, to make the inspection. These men are chairman of the board and president, respectively. The steam generator is not being used at this time due to some environmental restraints. The Dalton College Foundation is keeping an eye on the landmark plaque and it will be reopened to the public as soon as the building is renovated.

Landmark Location

Crown America, Inc.
714 Chattanooga Avenue
Dalton, GA 30720


Crown America Inc.

Ceremony Notes

October 1987

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