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'It was a different world': Savannah Paper Mill celebrates over 85 years of local industry_freckle removal dermatologist

2022-07-06 05:41:34 Form:Technology freckle - professional freckle author: click:996
Nancy Guan, Savannah Morning News·3 min read

Over the last 85-plus years, tens of thousands of Savannahians have worked at the "paper mill," located along the Savannah River north of downtown.

At its height in the 1950s, the mill employed more than 5,000. Modernization has trimmed that workforce over the decades, and today, about 650 workers operate the plant now owned by International Paper. Some of them come from a generation of paper mill workers who were there from the beginning.

In the audio story, we hear from two of them: Mike Collins and Karen Lowe, who’ve each worked there for about four decades. They tell us what they loved, what they endured and what their memories ultimately return to when they think back on the mill.

A brief history of one of Savannah's oldest industries

For 85 years, the “paper mill” has been an industrial fixture in Savannah. It’s a visual landmark and, if the wind is blowing the right direction, an olfactory one as well. Today, it produces about a million tons of paper product each year, which eventually gets made into our cardboard boxes.

Since the mill's inception in 1936, the industry has only grown. The Savannah mill quickly became the company’s largest mill in Georgia due to its proximity to a plentiful supply of southern pine trees. The Savannah facility produced 1.25 million tons of kraft paper and linerboard for boxes annually in those early years.

Mike Collins has worked at the Savannah Mill for 42 years. He comes from a generation of mill workers. Collins is pointing to a 1944 rendering of the plant. (International Paper 85th anniversary 2021).
Mike Collins has worked at the Savannah Mill for 42 years. He comes from a generation of mill workers. Collins is pointing to a 1944 rendering of the plant. (International Paper 85th anniversary 2021).

By the 1950s about 5,000 workers were running its operations under the company Union Bag and Paper Corp., also known as Union Camp. The plant was its own community – it had an athletics league, carpenters, gardeners and even its own magazine, “The Digester.”

In those early decades, the mill and its workers lived through major historical events. During World War II, the Savannah mill produced paper packaging, which was a critical war material. During that time, women started working at the mill to take the place of men who had gone off to war.

The mill was also a large local landowner and harvested trees from those properties for product. In 1969, Union Camp acquired Branigar Corporation and approximately 1.6 million acres of land in Georgia and neighboring states. One of Braniger’s holdings was Skidaway Island, and one of their projects was development of The Landings.

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