Altitude: 2,857 feet
"The population of Canton is increasing more rapidly, perhaps, than that of any other town in this favored section. Five years ago it had scarcely 250 inhabitants. The Census of 1910 accredited it with the population figures here given. It is estimated that an accurate enumeration now would show nearly 3,000. Located here is one of the largest pulp mills in the United States. Both sulphite and soda pulp are manufactured in great quantities. This industry is accountable largely for the rapid increase of the population, as through it general business has developed to a remarkable degree. The surrounding country is devoted principally to fruit growing and truck raising to which the foot hills and rich valley lands are peculiarly adapted.
"One mile east of Canton the Railway crosses the first of five bridges which span the tortuous Hominy Creek within a distance of seven miles, passing, meanwhile, through lands as fair and fertile as lie out-of-doors. After crossing the line between Haywood and Buncombe Counties, 14 miles from Asheville and 109.1 miles away from Murphy, Turnpike, a small way station located practically on the county line, is reached. It is simply a distributing point for nearby farmers and truck raisers."
"Small amounts of pulp wood, chiefly poplar and linn, have been cut and shipped from the mountain region of North Carolina to pulp mills in adjoining states for the past ten years or more. Three or four years ago, however, after the Champion Fiber Co., of Canton, Haywood County, began buying wood, the industry became important. This company, which operates the only paper manufacturing plant in western North Carolina, uses some nine different species of timber, employs more than 600 hands, and converts into paper practically all the pulp wood cut in this region, besides a large quantity of chestnut extract wood."
- J.S. Holmes, Forest Conditions in Western North Carolina (1911), p. 65
After construction on the Champion Fibre Plant began in the spring of 1906, news articles and tour guides of the early 1910s frequently mentioned the rapid growth of the town of Canton. For example, The 1916 Pictorial Story of Haywood County proclaimed that:
"The great growth of Canton since the coming of the Champion Fibre Company has been nothing less than marvelous. From a population of three or four hundred, she has climbed to an incorporation of perhaps six thousand, and there are at least 2,000 population contiguous to the city proper. The census of 1910 showed a township population of 5,051, and the town has grown by leaps and bounds since that time.”
Likewise, a July 25, 1913, Supplement to the Jackson County Journal noted that Canton had “more real estate and taxable property than any town in western North Carolina, except Asheville.” Champion Fibre Company drew upon the region’s timber resources to produce wood pulp for paper production.
The sender of this postcard view of Canton’s large pulp mill noted that the building marked with a “1” showed the boiler house “exactly as it looks today except that half of the forms are up for the concrete roof . . . .” The card was postmarked in August 1907. Less than ten years later, The 1916 Pictorial Story of Haywood County reported that Champion Fibre Company “employs over 1,000 men. Its pay roll is around $600,000 per year. Fifty (50) carloads of wood are used each day.”
"A short distance beyond the second Hominy Creek bridge is Luthers, one of the many little accommodations stations established by the Southern Railway. It is 12.3 miles from Asheville and 110.8 miles from Murphy. In the space of a mile and three-quarters the Railway then spans Hominy Creek three times, the first station beyond the last bridge being Candler, N.C."
The Tennessee & North Carolina Railroad linked the community of Sunburst and its large lumber operation to Canton, located to the north. Sunburst could be reached by rail in about an hour and fifteen minutes. A July 25, 1913, Supplement to the Jackson County Journal (Sylva, N.C.) reported:
“The town of Sunburst, the saw mill village, is a thriving town, with electric lights, water system, hotel accommodations, a system of beautiful bungalows . . . .”
“The Tennessee and North Carolina railroad with its Pigeon river division from Canton to Sunburst has been built within the past three years and has meant much to the commercial development of this section. The line has one of the best roadbeds in the state and the cars are of up-to-date and fine make. A regular passenger schedule is operated and a large amount of traffic handled.”
|To the West: Clyde||To the East: Candler|
Text excerpted from 1912 travel guide, The Western North Carolina Section at a Glance. Issued by the Passenger Traffic Department, Southern Railway, Premier Carrier of the South, Washington, D.C., 1912.
Sources & Readings