Then & Now
January 23, 2013 8:16PM
The Morris Paper Mills in 1960. From the Dave Belden collection
Updated: February 25, 2013 12:11PM
Morris Paper Mills — Morris
The first paper business in Morris was the Allen Paper Car Wheel Works, which functioned as a straw milling operation for the Pullman Palace Car Co. in Chicago. The business was named for Richard N. Allen, who invented the paper car wheel in 1869. In 1881, the Allen Paper Car Wheel Co., located in Chicago, relocated to Morris and built a processing plan. The plant straw was pulped, made into board and cut into circles, which created the core for the steel-tired composite wheels for Pullman. The paper core helped to absorb the shock from the track and provide a quieter, smoother ride. Located on East North Street, the business operated until 1890, when it was turned over to John N. Bunnell and changed its name to the American Straw Board Co., shown in the Then photograph. Over the next two decade the business and plant was leased, sold and restructured and operated under different names, including the Morris Box Board Co. In October 1915, the business reorganized and was incorporated as the Morris Paper Mills. By the 1920s, the paper mill became one of Morris’ largest employers and produced boxes of every kind, color and size that were shipped all over the country. In August 1956, Morris Paper Mills was sold to Federal Paperboard Co., shown in the Then photograph, and operated until closing in 1980. The Now picture shows a view of the old Federal Paperboard Office at 960 E. North St. today.
The Then photograph is from David Belden and the Local History Project digital collections. The Now photograph was taken by Christine O’Brien. Belden is publishing local postcard books. If you are interested in contributing a postcard image, email him at: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org call 815-467-2140, Ext. 260.