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UD Special Collections > Exhibitions > Little Known Histories of Newark, 1758-2008

Early Industries

The earliest industries in Newark were saw and grist mills powered by waters from the White Clay Creek and the Christina River. Wood, paper, and textile mills dominated nineteenth-century manufacturing in town until 1871, when two Americans bought the patent to manufacture vulcanized fiber from an English chemist. When the Dean Woolen Mill burned down on Christmas day, 1886, John Pilling and Samuel J. Wright quickly organized to produce the new vulcanized fiber product at the American Hard Fibre Company on the destroyed Dean site, at North Chapel on the White Clay Creek. A confusing series of competitors and mergers (some of whom used "fiber," others "fibre" in titles) grew so that by the 1920s, Newark was the Vulcanized Fiber Capital of the World.

(Largest vulcanized fiber company in the world, American Vulcanized Fiber Company, 1901)
American Vulcanized Fiber Company.
Newark, Delaware, Board of Trade invites industries,
compiled by E.P. Crowell.
Newark, Del.: Newark Board of Trade, 1901.

At the turn of the twentieth century, Newark's board of trade enticed new industries to the growing town, boasting excellent rail transportation, rich agricultural sources affecting reasonable cost of living, low land prices, "steady, reliable character" of laborers, and remarkably good educational facilities.

American Vulcanized Fibre Company plant, Newark, Del., Sept. 26, 1917.
This plan shows the paper mill (pink), main buildings and store house (blue), and fibre mill with tank rooms (yellow).
Wilbur T. Wilson map collection.
Gift of the estate of Wilbur T. Wilson

(Newark Delaware Board of Trade Invites Industries, Free Land, No Taxes)
Newark, Delaware, Board of Trade
Invites Industries: Free Land, No Taxes
compiled by E.P. Crowell.
Newark, Del.: Newark Board of
Trade, 1901.

American Vulcanized Fiber Company fiber tanks with zinc chloride processing baths.
UD Photographs collection.

Cover and page describing American Vulcanized Fiber Company, from Newark, Delaware, Board of Trade invites industries : free land, no taxes / compiled by E.P. Cowell. Newark, Del. : Newark Board of Trade, 1901.

Photograph of National Vulcanized Fibre Company Baseball Team.
Prints, Photographs, and Images collection.

Continental Fibre Company Band.
Prints, Photographs, and Images collection.

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