The paper mill is located on the downtown site once occupied by the Armour Leather Tannery. From 1901 to 1952, the tannery used the area’s abundant chestnut chips and bark in their operation.
In 1927, Mead located a semi-chemical medium mill (uses pulp, which is primarily produced from wood chips) next to the tannery along with three other mills in the region in order to utilize excess wood chips. EPA rules governing the discharge of effluent to adjacent creeks and air quality issues eventually caused Mead to close all four locations following the completion of their Stevenson, Alabama facility. Mead ceased operations in Sylva in 1974 and turned the property over to the local government.
The facility remained idle until 1978, when Dixie Container, a group of five box plants owned by L. Clifford Schroeder, purchased the mill. Dixie spent four years converting the facility from the production of semi-chemical medium to the production of 100% recycled medium (uses only old corrugated containers “OCC”, not wood). Dixie operated the facility from 1982 until 1990, when Tenneco purchased the Sylva mill along with Dixie’s other box plants. Following a strategic review of its facilities in 1994, Tenneco put the mill back on the market. Tim Campbell and Jeff Murphy, purchased the Sylva mill in March 1995 and renamed the facility Jackson Paper Manufacturing Company. Since then, the current owners have invested over $12 million in machine and facility upgrades.