Pulp Mill at Banning

It is often difficult to determine the history of one mill when many existed close together. Sources show there were at least five mills located along Snake Creek at one time. Besides the cotton mill, between 1878 and 1895, there were two pulp mills, a grist mill, a saw mill, a paper mill, and two dams. Reconstruction of the property in the form of maps is often difficult without the help of archeological surveys. Ruins of at least one of the pulp mills have been discovered at Historic Banning Mills Retreat. It is likely the ruins of the paper mill are nearby.

Below is a transcript of an article from the
Carroll County Times dated June 7th, 1889.

"About half a mile below the paper mill and operated by the same management is the recently established pulp mill. This is an industry comparatively new to the South, but destined to become a leading factor in the development of our wonderful resources. It is only a question of time when they will be almost as thickly scattered over the country as grist mills and gin-houses. The buildings here are not so extensive, but the machinery is all of the latest and most approved patterns. The process of converting our old-field pines into a fibrous pulp of superior quality is a decidedly interesting operation. The trees are cut into 18-inch blocks. These are carried to a 'peeler' where the bark is removed with lighting rapidity, which is rendered necessary from the fact that there is no fiber to the bark. The next machine brought into requisition is the 'grinder.' This is a rock 48 inches in diameter with an 18 inch grinding surface. The rock runs upon a horizontal shaft and is surrounded with substantial iron casing. Through apertures in this casing the blocks are fed, and when in position they cover the grinding surface of the stone and are kept in place by a hydraulic pressure of 110 pounds. A constant flow of water is kept up during the grinding process. This softens the wood and prevents combustion. In fact, such an odor of turpentine impregnated the atmosphere, that we should have felt safer had the entire premise been converted into a shower bath during the period of our investigations. The pulp issues from the grinder a glutinous, resinous mush, and is conveyed to the 'wet machine.' It comes from this machine in tightly compressed sheets, 21 x 36, and is carried to the paper mill ready to be manufactured into paper. Here it is mixed with other raw material and goes through pretty much the same process we have attempted to describe. It is claimed that the mixture of wood-pulp in proper proportion with rag and paper stock reduces the cost of manufacturing about 2 cents per pound. This is certainly a fine showing for the 'old-field pines.' About 25 hands are employed here at wages ranging from 50 cents to $1.50 a day. Five cords of wood are consumed daily."