THE HISTORY OF CARPET INDUSTRY IN THE UNITED STATES
The history of the use of carpets, as floor coverings and protective shields against the ruggedness of weather, dates back to ancient civilizations. Archeological excavations provide evidences about spinning and weaving of wool being practiced in Civilizations as old as Indus Valley and Persian civilizations. Designed intricately and beautifully, carpets used to amuse the foreign traders who helped in popularity of this manifestation of cultural art in their homeland. It is highly believed that tradesmen played key role in the introduction of carpets in the United States.
Driven by a desire of self-sufficiency and innovation, Americans wasted no time in setting up a carpet industry in their own homeland. The first woven carpet mill was established in Philadelphia, United States by William Sprague as early as 1791. This led to the opening of few other mills in New England. However, a revolutionary step in the carpet industry was taken by Erastus Bigelow when he invented the power loom in 1839. This invention completely revolutionized the carpet industry. The rate of production of carpets rose to another level. Power looms with various mechanisms were subsequently set up in different parts of America. The next major milestone was achieved by the industrialist Marshall Field when he remarkably improvised a weaving loom to produce machine-made rugs similar in design, color pattern and quality to hand-made rugs.
Along the woven carpet industry, the tufted carpet industry was also developing in the United States. The tufted carpet industry started in Dalton, Georgia in 1800s, and grew progressively to influence the whole of the state and then, the whole of the nation. The story of its start is very amusing. A young Dalton woman prepared a bedspread as a wedding gift for her familiars. Copying a quilt pattern, she sewed thick cotton yarns with a running stitch into unbleached muslin, clipped the ends of the yarn so they would fluff out, and finally, washed the spread in hot water to hold the yarns in by shrinking the fabric. The resulting bedspread fascinated a lot of people, and soon the woman started selling her bedspreads. Gradually, the demand increased and the growing popularity of bedspreads earned them a place into New York markets. The demand of the tufted bedspreads escalated to such a level that their production process had to be mechanized. In 1930s, the first machine that produced tufted bedspreads was developed. The massive destruction of World War II left people starving for color and beauty, and so the demand of the tufts rose further. Within few decades, demand had increased to millions, and the town of Dalton experienced immense development of infrastructure and facilities to support the thriving industry.
Besides mechanization, another major development that led to the growth of carpet industry was the shifting of trend from cotton yarn and wool to synthetic fibers as the material used in carpet production. Nylon provides durable and high quality carpets similar to wool, yet the cost of these carpets is considerably lower. This further led to increase in demand of the carpets.
Today, carpets have become commonplace in the United States. Interior of every house, office and building is embellished using radiantly colored and intricately designed carpets. The growth in popularity of carpets in the United States can be attributed to the efforts of the tradesmen, engineers and innovators who helped bring this commodity within access of every citizen.