Curtis Paper Mill

From my travels, August 5, 2023.

Emily and I had gone up to visit her Nana at the senior living community that she moved in to. We planned to have dinner together in their dining room and just enjoy the company.

As we were waiting for our food, I noticed a series of prints hanging on the wall depicting various aspects of the papermaking process. Some of the prints were photos and maps labeled as from the “Nonantum Paper Mill”. It piqued my interest because of the excellent lecture from Scott L. Mingus that I attended a few years ago on the History of Papermaking.

The three of us got to talking about it at dinner, and the ladies told me that the old mill was nearby on the aptly-named Paper Mill Road. Emily agreed to drive over to check it out when we were finished with our visit.

A plaque with the brand of the Curtis Paper Mill is at the site today. - <i>Photo by the author</i>
A plaque with the brand of the Curtis Paper Mill is at the site today. – Photo by the author

The City of Newark converted the site into a park several years ago. The mill had closed down in 1999. None of the old buildings still exist, but I think the mill race is still there – I need to go back to investigate further. A wayside marker told the story of the mill – and I was able to add it to the HMDB during my visit.

The Curtis Paper Mill wayside marker. - <i>Photo by the author</i>
The Curtis Paper Mill wayside marker. – Photo by the author

Most notably, during WWII about 50% of the output of the mill was used by the United States Federal Government or for lend-lease. In fact, the paper that the Japanese Instrument of Surrender was printed on was made right there at that now-unassuming spot in Newark, DE.

I feel like I say it all the time, but history is all around us if you give yourself the chance to stumble onto it.

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