York Town Square

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Old King’s Mill-Smurfit Stone site giving way to information age

Several years ago, the Smurfit-Stone site was cleaned up in preparation for the minor league ballpark that later became Sovereign Bank Stadium on a cross-town York, Pa., site. Here, demolition work is taking place along Grantley Road in Spring Garden Township. Background posts: New York College book provides insight into school, community and Researcher leaves detailed files on more than 300 York and Adams mills and American pastime vs. American dream playing out in York, Pa. and Worker saved key historical surveys from Glatfelter pulping machine.
A commenter on a recent York Daily Record/Sunday News story about the former King’s Mill site put its history into perspective:
“That mill had been making paper since John Adams was our second president. And some of the equipment in there, a few of the steam dryers, were actually original or close to it.”
That’s about right.
York College is buying that site – known today at the Smurfit-Stone Container Corp. – that loaned its name to King’s Mill Road… .

Containerboard millwork ended there in 2000, and it’s now a deteriorating reminder of that industrial sector of the York area.
In the larger view, it’s Exhibit A showing how York County’s – and Pennsylvania’s and America’s – industries are giving way to what sometimes are called informational uses. In other words, the information age, represented by York College, is replacing the industrial era, an old paper mill.
A related example of the industries giving way to the service sector came in the old East York neighborhood area along North Hills Road in Springettsbury Township when a new Rutter’s replaced an old paper mill.
That King’s Mill site has been part of the York area’s industrial scene since 1798, as the following chronology, prepared by the York Daily Record/Sunday News shows:
1798 — Philip J. King founded the mill. Subsequent owners included the A.A. Yerkes Wall Paper Co., The National Wall Paper Co., Schmidt & Ault Paper Co., St. Regis Paper Co. and Champion International.
1987 — Stone Container Corp. is running the mill.
1994 — Stone Container Corp. records one if its first layoffs in years with 45 workers that were expected to lose their jobs.
1998 — Jefferson Smurfit Corp. bought the company and the factory became Smurfit-Stone.
2000 — The Spring Garden Township and York facility stops operations. Company officials say the mill is not profitable.
2002 — The former Smurfit-Stone factory was eyed as a possible location for York’s pending minor-league baseball franchisee, but developers settled on a downtown location – home of Sovereign Bank Stadium.
2006 — The old mill becomes a popular target of local metal thieves, whose stripping of the hold machinery to sell as scrap copper and other metals also became a source of pollution in the Codorus Creek.
2009 — York College agrees to buy the property as space for expected expansion in the coming decades. No set plans are known. The going price is be tween $5 million and $6 million.