Mark in Texas History: Southland paper mills
LUFKIN, Texas (KTRE) - Though it’s shut down, the Lufkin paper mill is still prominent today just east of the city limits. It’s the subject of this week’s Mark in Texas History by Mark Scirto.
Southland Paper Mills was the first plant to turn southern pines into newsprint. According to historian Bob Bowman, it was Ernest Kurth’s vision to build a paper mill to provide paper for Texas newspapers which were dependent on foreign sources.
According to Bowman, the wood was long thought to be unsuitable for paper because the pine rosin gummed up the machinery.
But Kurth ran into Charles Holmes Herty, who developed a way to neutralize the rosin and an East Texas paper mill was born.
Southland began operations in 1940 and shortly later, the area saw some of its greatest economic growth, ending the financial troubles for many East Texas counties.
Abitibi later bought up the mill and it was shut down in 2007. The City of Lufkin purchased the mill’s water rights in 2009.
If you’d like to take a look at the old paper mill, it’s on Highway 103 east just outside of Lufkin. The marker stands in a grassy area between Atkinson Drive and the railroad tracks.
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