Looking back: Union Camp dedicates expansion
Published 10:51 am Friday, October 21, 2016
by Clyde Parker
October 21, 1966
Threatening weather and cloudy skies could not dampen the dedication of the $37 million Union-Camp Corporation expansion project at the Franklin location on Wednesday. A crowd estimated by some to be nearly 1,000 attended the ceremony.
Some of the 600 invited guests and dignitaries began arriving early. Residents on nearby Councill and Carver roads near the mill were awakened as early as 6 a.m. by the roar of helicopters, ferrying the “early-birds.”
The large crowd spent the morning hours on tours of the plant and its new Number five paper machine. Numerous exhibits of wood handling and transportation equipment were on display.
After lunch, the group moved to a special area, across the parking lot from the new machine, for the dedication. A roof-covered platform was erected for special guests; reporters were also accommodated.
Featured speakers at the formal ceremony, which began at 2 p.m., were Alexander Calder Jr., President of Union Camp Corporation; Hugh D. Camp, Chairman of the Board of Union-Camp; and The Honorable Mills E. Godwin, Governor of Virginia and a director of Union-Camp.
In his remarks, Governor Godwin praised Union-Camp’s Franklin-Isle of Wight location.
“It is a significant factor in Virginia’s economy,” he said.
“The industrial leadership which Union-Camp has shown here has inspired others to look to Virginia as a place to go and grow,” he added.
In his remarks explaining the multi-million dollar expansion, Calder noted, “The paper industry is growing. We expect to continue modernizing and improving.”
Reflecting on the Company’s growth in Franklin, Chairman Hugh Camp said, “We produced 37,000 tons of paper when we started making paper back in 1938. Our budget for next year in Franklin calls for 320,000 tons of bleached paper and board. We have come a long way.”
Mr. Camp said that the Company had spent $88 million at Franklin since 1956, including the current $37 million project.
The largest single portion of the current Franklin Mill expansion, according to James M. Piette, Vice President and Resident Manager of the Franklin complex, is a giant new paper machine.
“The new machine, the Mill’s fifth one, is about as long as a football field and would displace as much weight as a fleet-type submarine,” he said.
All five machines now operating in Franklin produce grades of white paper and paperboard headed for such various end-uses as containers, envelopes, greeting cards, display materials, postcards, data processing papers, booklets, and brochures. The Franklin Mill also manufactures Union-Camp’s branded lines of offset, bond, duplicator, mimeo and business papers.
The new number 5 machine is capable of producing papers at approximately 25 miles per hour. At any given moment, the length of paper in process on the machine measures about 3/4 of a mile, end to end.
Other mill additions included in the current expansion are: A 24-story high digester that reduces wood chips to pulp via a continuous cooking process similar to pressure cooking; an enlarged and improved bleaching system; and the rebuilding of the complex’s chemical recovery area. Still in process is the rebuilding and modernizing of one of the Mill’s four other paper machines.
Union Camp Corporation operates three paper and paperboard mills (a fourth is under construction in Eastover, S.C.), two lumber mills, 15 corrugated container plants, two solid fiber container plants, six bag factories, seven chemical plants, two folding carton plants, two school supplies and stationery plants and a plywood plant — under construction.
The Company has six overseas subsidiary/ affiliate operations.
CLYDE PARKER is a retired human resources manager for the former Franklin Equipment Co. and a member of the Southampton County Historical Society. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org