Celriver Legacy Project to Begin Construction on Celriver Legacy Plaza

Celriver Legacy Project P.O. Box 11134, Rock Hill, SC29731

 News Release 9/22/16

         The Celriver Legacy Plaza, to be located in Rock Hill’s new Riverwalk Development, is moving forward to construction after approximately $290,000 was raised.  These gifts and pledges were received from 176 donors over the last 18 months.

            The Celriver Legacy Plaza will be located beside the Riverwalk YMCA, just in front of the Giordana Velodrome.  The Plaza is part of “Town Center”, now under construction on the former Celriver plant site to include retail, dining, and housing.

            The purpose of the Celriver Legacy Project is to preserve the legacy of the Celanese Celriver plant, its employees, and their significant contributions to the history and economy of the community.  For almost 60 years (from 1948 to 2005), the Celanese Celriver plant was one of York County’s largest businesses, employing up to 2,300 area citizens at any one time.  An historical marker, unveiled on the site June 1, refers to the plant as a “miracle of modern technology.”

            Ed Ewald, Celriver Legacy Project Chair and former plant manager of the Celanese Celriver Plant, announced that the project is now pursuing construction, which is scheduled to begin by the end of 2016 and to be completed by mid 2017.

This new public space will accommodate gatherings, events, concerts, visitors, and Riverwalk residents in a permanent environmental artwork memorial.  The Riverwalk Development is projected to house 4,000 to 5,000 residents when it is completed. The Celriver Legacy Plaza will contain benches, sculptures depicting former employees, other artwork, a poem about the Celriver plant, graphic interpretive kiosks, and memorial markers with over 200 names of contributors. 

The Celriver Legacy Project has also published a pictorial history book written by Michael Scoggins, historian for the York County Cultural and Heritage Museums, which is now on sale for $30.  In addition, the Project will establish endowed college scholarships (giving a preference to family members of former Celriver Employees) to continue the community support made possible by the workers at the Celriver Plant. 

            Additional donations are welcomed to complete the Legacy Plaza and fund the endowed scholarships; you may mail a contribution to the Celriver Legacy Project at P.O. Box 11134, Rock Hill,  SC 29731.  The project is a 501 (c )(3) charitable organization and all contributions are tax-deductible.

            Officers and members of the Celriver Legacy Campaign Steering Committee were announced by Ed Ewald as follows: 

-       Ed Ewald, Chair                                                                         

-       Mack Bailey, former Celriver employee, Secretary

-       Jim Davis, former Celriver employee, Treasurer                                                     

-       Bernie Ackerman, BNA CPAs & Advisors

-       Bryant Barnes, Comporium

-       Ell Close, The Pump House Restaurant

-       Fred Faircloth, Rock Hill Coca Cola

-       Amy Faulkenberry, Piedmont Medical Center

-       Rondel Hartwell, Sharonview Federal Credit Union

-       Jim Heckle, York County Natural Gas Authority

-       Tim Lyda, Arrowpointe Federal Credit Union

-       Stephen Turner, Rock Hill Economic Development Corp.

-       David White, attorney at law

-       Norman Culbertson, former Celriver employee

-       Brad McKeown, former Celriver employee

-       Nelson Odom, former Celriver employee

-       Bill Turner, former Celriver employee

-       Karlene Haley, daughter of former Celriver employee

More information is available at the Project’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/CelriverLegacyProject/

and website: http://www.celriver.org/




The Legacy Books are IN!

The Celriver Legacy books will be distributed at a book signing on Monday, July 18, 4:00 to 6:00 PM in the second floor conference room at the Giordana Velodrome in Riverwalk (across from Home Depot on Cherry Road). 

Michael Scoggins, Historian for the Cultural and Heritage Museums and Chief Author of “A Miracle of Modern Technology”, will be present to sign books already purchased as well as books purchased on site.  The hardcover picture book documents the history, processes, and people of the Celanese Celriver facility that were instrumental in York County’s growth from immediately after WWII to the early 21st Century.
If you have already paid for a book, you can save postage AND get an autograph by dropping by on Monday; if you would like to purchase a book, the cost is $30.00 if you pick it up, or $35.00 if it is mailed.  Make checks out to “Celriver Legacy Project”.  

For any questions, E-mail celriverlegacyproject@gmail.com or call 803-329-2321.

Dozen years of relationships

I spent roughly half of my 25 years with Celanese at the Celriver plant.  My daughter jokingly called it “Smellanese” although she didn’t really know what she had missed since I didn’t pursue my Pulp and Paper Technology degree into that industry!  Still, the woodpulp raw material at Celriver created a connection to a familiar resource.

With my second degree in Chemical Engineering, you would think that the opportunity to learn the process of making “artificial silk” would be the highlight.  And, when I was asked to supervise the Warehouse I must admit that I wondered what a PhD in Engineering would bring to the party.  In fact, the time spent with the Warehouse employees was probably the greatest learning opportunity I had.  Dealing with a unionized workforce was not included in my college courses!  However, the Warehouse employees soon showed me that we all appreciate being treated with fairness and respect.  How tough is that?

Even now, twenty-five years after leaving Celriver, I miss the floors of polished maple, the smell of acetone, and the pound after pound of yarn channeling through the buildings.  But, most of all, I miss the many people who made up the Celriver family.  Anecdote after anecdote run through my mind as I recall the dozen years of relationships created at The Celanese.

Mack Bailey 1978 to 1990

looking for the celriver plant



The water tower on the Catawba

all that’s left of the old plant.


Tall brick walls & polished maple floors

housed bonds of chemistry, kin, & community.


Methodical hands guided by educated minds

designed systems that dissolved their knowledge

into a viscous cellulose solution.


Nimble hands once played the white filament

making silent songs moving bobbins,

have shifted to other instruments.


Heavy, etched hands

once measured their contribution

with careful attention to detail

and craftsmanship.


Committed, caring hands responsible

for motivating people and process,

manufactured meaningful relationships

reinforced with collective respect.


Those there during its peak,

thankful for their good fortune,

speak of the golden age of

the modern fibers plant.



[est 2007]

Here, by the river, the cycle continues

a sure foundation and a new community emerges.

Our Celriver adventure began in late May 1971

Our Celriver adventure began in late May of 1971.  Newly graduated from Iowa State University, Connie and I left Ames, Iowa pulling a 5X8 Uhaul.  We had a brief layover in Corbin, Kentucky where Connie gave birth to our first daughter, Katherine Corbin.  A later due date proved to be a bit of a miscalculation.    After receiving the keys to the city of Corbin, we journeyed on to Rock Hill where I began a 35 year career with Celanese. 

During my first six incredible formative years, I held positions in Operations Analysis, Planning, Warehouse and Bobbin Stores, and Quality Control.    The learning experiences working with, supervising, being supervised, and sharing triumphs as well as setbacks with Celriver folks will serve me well for my entire life. My tenure at Celriver ended in September of 1977 when I transferred to acetate planning in the Charlotte office.  Having made such close ties we kept our Rock Hill residence.

My final position with Celanese was as general manager in Kunming, China for five years.  Celriver sent us flake during our successful expansion.  Though Celriver has closed, the Legacy lives on.  Soon I will share with granddaughter, Corbin, the Celriver Plaza.  I will explain that the enterprise and the community that embodied Celriver are part of who she is.  To all of you who played a role in this adventure, thank you.  

Brad McKeown