5 Reasons for Jacksonville's Smell

October 12, 2015 17 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Central Florida papers once described Jacksonville as an industrial city that sweats, and pretty much smells that way. This is a city that could use a shot of municipal-strength deodorant. On the other hand, local advocates countered that the city's rotten egg stench was the "smell of money". Here's a look back at the five places that once gave the city an image it's still trying to rid itself of.

5. Seminole Kraft Corporation

An aerial view of the St. Regis Paper Company paper mill in 1956. This mill is now operated by Rock Tenn. Image courtesy of State Archives of Florida.

In January 1953, the St. Regis Paper Company opened the second large pulp and kraft mill in Jacksonville, along the Broward River. A massive expansion to the mill was completed in 1957. The expansion included a 1000-ton board machine which manufactured kraft board for the corrugated shipping container market. The enlarged mill would have more than four times as much pulp capacity as was originally built.

In 1983, the mill was sold to the Jacksonville Kraft Paper Company. At the time, the Jacksonville mill employed 690 and had an annual capacity of 128,000 tons of kraft paper, used in such applications as wrapping paper and shopping bags, and 337,000 tons of linerboard, also used in packaging.

The Jacksonville Kraft Paper Company shut down operations in 1985. A year later, it was acquired by Stone Container Corporation in 1986 and renovated as Seminole Kraft Corporation. At the time, Stone Container expected the renovated mill would have a daily capacity to produce about 100,000 tons of linerboard and about 146,000 tons of kraft paper, or about a total of 490,000 tons a year. Under Stone's ownership, the mill was used to supply outside customers, foreign buyers, and its converting facilities. At those facilities, linerboard was converted into corrugated containers and kraft paper was converted into paper bags and sacks.

WestRock's Jacksonville mill in 2015. Courtesy of Google Streetview.

Stone merged with Jefferson Smurfit in 1998, leading to the closure of Jefferson Smurfit's Talleyrand mill. In 2011, the RockTenn acquired the mill from Smurfit-Stone. In early 2015, RockTenn and MeadWestvaco merged, creating a $16 billion manufacturer of cardboard cartons and other types of boxes called WestRock. Today, it's the last remaining paper mill in the city with 590,000 tons of capacity. It's also a 100% recycled operation, eliminating the odorous kraft process that plagued the city's air quality for decades.

Stop by Metro Jacksonville's Book Launch Party at 6pm today at San Marco Bookstore learn more about Jacksonville's modern history. Click HERE for more information.

Article by Ennis Davis, AICP. Contact Ennis at edavis@moderncities.com

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