Baldwinsville History Mystery: Jan. 16, 2019
Question: The photo this week shows two men looking at a piece of machinery in the foreground. It was a publicity photo from the Messenger on Sept. 22, 1971. Do you know what company was involved and what being publicized?
Last week’s answer: Last week’s sketch appeared on the “Bird’s Eye View of Baldwinsville, N.Y.,” a map that was published in 1880. The sketch shows the Schoonmaker & Co. Paper Mill which was located on paper mill point, today known as Paper Mill Island.
The point was an ideal industrial location. Water power was plentiful; the mighty Seneca River coursed by on its north side. The point was the spit of land that extended west of Syracuse Street into the river. Its position allowed for easy access for raw materials and efficient transportation for shipping out finished goods. The waterway seen in the forefront of the sketch was on the point’s south side. It was a short canal or water service road that was used by several industries.
As early as 1825 sawmills were humming on the site. As the local timber supply dwindled, the sawmills closed. In 1862 Johnson, Cook & Company purchased the point and set up a distillery. The end product was welcome but the side effects were not. The waste product of distilling is used as feed for livestock. The pens of cattle on the distillery site created an unpleasant environment for neighboring businesses and nearby residents. The distillery was short-lived.
In 1866 the site was purchased by C. G. Kenyon & Co. and a paper mill was set up. Manufacturing began in early 1867 and would continue for a century with an occasional interruption due to fire.
Henry Munroe was the first superintendent. Munroe’s work force numbered 20, including several girls. Within its first year the plant was expanded. An additional engine, boiler, and bleaching equipment were installed and production of newsprint was underway. By 1880 strawboard (cardboard for boxes and book covers) had become a specialty. Local farmers supplied the straw, the river provided ample water power, and coal and other raw materials came by canal boat.
Ownership would change several times and processes and products would change with technological advances. The last owner was National Cellulose Corporation. Pulp supplies were dwindling and competition within the industry was keen. NCC closed in 1956 but its shadow remains as a local highlight. Today, Paper Mill Island is a novel and engaging venue for concerts, celebrations and community events.
Bob Scherfling correctly identified the National Cellulose Corporation, which he said produced toilet paper, sanitary napkins and other paper products. After NCC closed, the site became a boatyard and then a body shop and storage facility for the Van Wie dealership, which is now Evans Chevrolet.
Email your guess to email@example.com or leave a message at 315-434-8889 ext. 310 with your guess by noon Friday. If you are the first person to correctly identify an element in the photo before the deadline, your name and guess will appear in next week’s Messenger, along with another History Mystery feature. History Mystery is a joint project of the Museum at the Shacksboro Schoolhouse and the Baldwinsville Public Library.