Construction of the Eno Cotton Mill began in 1896, west of Hillsborough, on the Eno River. The river initially provided the power and the railroad provided both the means of delivering raw cotton to the mill and the yarn or cloth products to customers. Machinery was installed and the mill started operating in late 1897 as a 10,000 spindle yarn mill.
In late1904, the mill's production capacity was increased with the addition of 350 looms for weaving ginghams and plaid cloth. In 1913, the Eno Cotton Mill began selling its cloth through Cone Export Commission Company.
In 1926, The Cone Mills Companies acquired 40% of the Eno Cotton Mill, which led to Cone taking a majority position in the Mill. Previously manufacturing only yarn-dyed fabrics – ginghams, chambrays, and denims – the Eno Mill began weaving combed yarn broadcloths in 1929, when new machinery was installed and combed yarn was substituted for course carded yarn. After 1929, the major products of the mill were broadcloth, shirting and corduroy. During World War II, production was shifted to produce the heavier cloth needed by the Army. Because of the Mill's importance to the war efforts, many mill workers were exempted from the draft.
On January 1, 1952 the Eno Mill (subsidiary) became part of Cone Mills, Incorporated, of Greensboro. Sydney Green, who had been with the Eno plant since 1933 and was vice president
Click here to view gallery of historic photos documenting Eno Cotton Mill courtesy of Cone Denim, LLC a division of International Textile Group, Inc
of the local company, became the resident manager. James Webb, who was president of the local company, became a vice president of the Cone organization.
By 1953 the plant had 30,000 spindles and 676 looms. When operating at capacity, three shifts a day, as it had since 1939, about 600 persons were employed. Approximately half of the employees were women. The company provided 148 houses for its workers; employees not accommodated in the mill villages lived in Hillsborough and the surrounding countryside.
The mill was substantially renovated and expanded in the mid-1950s. In 1956, the mill houses were moved from the mill villages. The houses were sold for $25 per room, with first option of purchase given to mill employees. Most of the houses were moved to West Hillsborough and the close-by unincorporated area of the city.
The Eno Mill closed in 1984. In December 1986, approximately 29 acres (which included the mill village site) on Occoneechee Mountain was given to the town of Hillsborough by Cone Mills. It was developed into what is now Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area.
In 1988, the Gold family acquired the Eno Mill from Cone Mills. The Gold family continued to operate the property as The Hillsborough Business Center, leasing space for a wide variety of uses including laboratories, light manufacturing, brewing, and unique office spaces.
In 1995, the Gold family donated about 30 acres of land adjacent to the Mill which the Town of Hillsborough has developed into Gold Park. Subsequent development by the Town extended the Riverwalk trail from Historic Downtown Hillsborough to the Eno River Mill and it now continues on to the Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area.
In 2008, the Hillsborough Business Center partnered with Hedgehog Holdings, LLC of Raleigh and the business was relaunched as the Eno River Mill. Hedgehog Holdings is also a family run business, headed by Frank Gailor and daughter Jocelyn Wells.
Historic reference courtesy of the Orange County Historic Museum, "The Eno Cotton Mill,"