This 150 foot obelisk on the Augusta Canal in Richmond County may look like a remnant of an industrial era that has long passed, but there is more history to this than meets the eye. This chimney is the only remaining portion of the Confederate Powder Works: a massive complex that sprawled two miles along the Augusta Canal, providing gunpowder for the Confederate Army during the Civil War.
Construction began in September 1861, and the Powder Works was producing gunpowder in just 7 months in 1862 until it was seized and dismantled after the war ended, the facility had produced over 3 million pounds of gunpowder during the years it was operating. In 1872, the the Obelisk Chimney was the only portion of the building that was spared.
A group of local businessmen obtained the site and formed the Sibley Manufacturing Company. Brick from the demolished powder works was used in the construction of the Sibley Cotton mill between 1880 and 1882. With the appearance of a medieval castle or fortress, the mill resembles the Powder Works it replaced.
Soon after the mill began operation, it became one of the largest and most successful cotton mills in the region, a model of good management and worker relations. Eventually, Sibley Mill modernized in order to compete in an ever-increasing world market. It operated until 2006, closing after operating for over 130 years! There are water-driven turbines in the mill that still generate electricity that is sold to Georgia Power.
There is still life left in this old building, a company called Augusta Cyberworks has already renovated & is actively using a few other buildings on the property, and they are planning to remodel and convert the old mill into offices, apartments and turn a portion of it into a 20 megawatt datacenter!
Jay Blanton | The Georgia Photography Fanatic