from pines makes headlines
Less than a year after Charles Herty opened his research lab, a Georgia
weekly called the Soperton News printed its March 31, 1933 edition
on experimental paper made from southern pine trees. Seven months later,
nine other newspapers followed suit.
Herty had championed, cajoled and shepherded a watershed event in the
centuries-old history of papermaking. Visionary and entrepreneur, twice
president of the American Chemical Society, he expounded an idea which
was revolutionary in that time: southern pines could be grown as crops
and made into excellent white paper.
For decades the prevailing wisdom held that southern pines were too gummy
to be used for anything but cardboard and other brown paper. The forest
and white paper industries had been built around the less sappyand
quickly dwindlinghardwoods of the northern United States and Canada.
In the precarious economic climate of the 1930s, the paper industry had
little incentive to venture elsewhere.
A passion for southern pines
For Herty, the incentive was the Great Depression. His
native south had been hard-hit by the stock market crash, bank closings
and other financial catastrophes. Many of his fellow southerners knew
little but farming and lived hand-to-mouth even in the best of times.
The regions abundant pines would provide an economic boost. "In
order to give our people a living and get them out of one-room shacks,
it may be desirable in the next 15 years to eat into our forest capital,"
he told the Savannah Morning News.