Most folks don’t have to live in Swannanoa very long before they start to hear stories about Beacon Manufacturing and the impact it had on our community. Beacon opened its Swannanoa plant in the mid-1920s. At one time, it was the largest blanket manufacturer in the world, employing more than 2,200 people. The million-square-foot Beacon plant sat in the middle of town, just a short walk from the “Station” (the name locals gave to the old downtown Swannanoa) and the employee homes in Beacon Village. Many Swannanoa residents grew up as part of the “Beacon family,” and have fond memories of the days when the plant, and the surrounding community, were humming with activity.
Sadly, the Beacon plant closed in 2002, and burned to the ground in 2003. But Beacon and the Owen family remain an important part of the history and life of Swannanoa. The below photographs of Beacon blankets pay tribute to that history and to the generations of Swannanoans who worked at Beacon. The members of Swannanoa’s “Beacon family,” many of whom still live here today, lovingly produced blankets that brightened homes and kept people warm all around the world. Most Americans of a certain age probably grew up with Beacon blankets on their beds and in their homes. And countless WWII soldiers wrapped themselves in wool army blankets that were produced by the millions at Beacon’s Swannanoa plant. That’s a legacy Swannanoa can be proud of.