Canton on the route

Motoring through the Mountains - 1930s: Canton

Haywood County
Altitude: 2,857 feet

Expansion in the early 1920s at the already vast Champion Fibre plant in Canton, N.C., signaled creation of the largest paper plant in the nation. By the 1920s the Champion Fibre Company had assembled ownership of considerable acreage in western North Carolina, including over 90,000 acres within the future bounds of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. A report of a visit to the plant in 1922 listed the amount of wood products consumed by the plant:

“Woodlands. Wood is the raw material from which our Pulp Products are manufactured, our daily consumption of the various kinds of wood being as follows:
Chestnut . . . . . . . . . . . 300 cords
Spruce . . . . . . . . . . . 250 cords
Pine . . . . . . . . . . . 100 cords

The report continued by noting that “all this wood is obtained locally,” specifically from Champion’s own timber lands, from private individuals or entities, and from saw mill refuse. The scope of the company’s holdings was summarized as:

“Our Timberlands are located in the best timber-producing section of the Southern Appalachians, comprising about 125,000 acres owned in fee, which, together with the areas controlled under long-term contracts, will bring our total holdings up to 300,000 acres. This includes a spruce tract of 35,000 acres which saddles the Great Smoky Range, along the divide between North Carolina and Tennessee, and contains practically all the spruce remaining in the south. Scientific reforestation, and thorough protection of holdings of this magnitude, assure us of plentiful supplies for the future.”

The 1939 book by the Federal Writer’s Project entitled North Carolina: A Guide to the Old North State indicated that Champion’s operation employed 1,500 people and also commented that the company “owns 140,000 acres of forest land, and obtains additional timber from 5,000,000 acres of independently owned forests. It maintains a continuous program of reforestation to insure against shortage of raw material.”

Canton in the 1890s  |  Canton in the 1910s

To the West: Clyde


To the East: Candler

Return to the Map for the 1930s

Sources & Readings

  • Allen, W.C. (William Cicero). The Annals of Haywood County, North Carolina: Historical, Sociological, Biographical, and Genealogical. [S.l.: S.n.], 1935.
  • Bishir, Catherine W., Michael T. Southern, and Jennifer F. Martin. A Guide to the Historic Architecture of Western North Carolina. Chapel Hill and London: University of North Carolina Press, 1999.
  • Federal Writers’ Project of the Federal Works Agency, Works Projects Administration. North Carolina: A Guide to the Old North State. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1939.
  • “Glimpses of the Plant of the Champion Fibre Co., Canton, North Carolina. Souvenir of the Visit of the Cincinnati Commercial Club, May 1922.” [S.l.: s.n., n.d.]