You asked: ‘Bronco’ has deep roots in Franklin

Published 10:00 am Saturday, June 4, 2011

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You asked: What is the connection of the bronco to the Franklin area?

FRANKLIN—Wild horses couldn’t tear Franklin away from its history as a mill town.


The bronco became an important symbol in the community’s history starting in 1937 with the Chesapeake Camp Corp.’s first paper product known as Bronco Kraft.

Retired Franklin paper mill employee Joe Stutts said the slogan for the heavy-duty, brown paper was “tough as a bronc to break.” He said this product spawned Franklin High School’s mascot, as well as the name of the Bronco Rod and Gun Club and other organizations. He said it was important to the community.

“It provided not only extra employment but a market for trees in the area that wasn’t there before,” Stutts said.

Stutts, who worked at the mill for 28 years as communications manager before retiring in 1998, said the product was brown because it was produced before bleaching was introduced in the mid-1950s.

“It’s what they made before World War II,” Stutts said. “They put in a new machine after the war.”

The paper product is also the namesake of Bronco Federal Credit Union.

Pam Vaughan, market manager at Bronco, said the credit union was established in 1941 during the time when Bronco Kraft was the mill’s “most prolific product” and thus took its name from that.

She said the paper was used for grocery bags.

Stutts still has an original logo for the product that was pasted to the end of paper rolls.

“I don’t know who came up with the name Bronco,” he said.