James River Corporation

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James River Corporation
IndustryPulp and paper
Founded1969; 55 years ago (1969)
Defunct1997; 27 years ago (1997)
FateMerged with Fort Howard Paper Company
SuccessorFort James Corporation
Key people
Miles Marsh, CEO[1]
RevenueDecrease $5.7 billion[1] (1996)
Increase $157 million[1] (1996)
Number of employees

James River Corporation was an American pulp and paper company based in Richmond, Virginia,[2] once the largest paper manufacturer in the world.[2]


The company was founded in 1969 as the James River Paper Company by Brenton Halsey and Robert Williams, with the purchase of Ethyl Corporation's Specialty Papers Division.[2] Halsey and Williams were both former employees of Albemarle Paper Manufacturing Company; the city of Richmond lies along the James River.

The company changed its name to the James River Corporation in 1973,[2] and it acquired the Brown Company subsidiary of Gulf and Western Industries in 1980 and the Dixie/Northern division of American Can Company in 1982.[3]

In 1986, James River acquired the fine paper mill assets of Crown Zellerbach, headquartered in San Francisco, and became the largest paper manufacturer in the world.[2] The brown paper division of CZ was not in the deal and became Gaylord Container Corporation. Crown Zellerbach had been the target of a hostile takeover by Sir James Goldsmith.[4][5]

James River began producing 100 percent recycled paper products in 1991 at its mill in Green Bay, Wisconsin.[3] Some of the products included Recycled Northern Bath Tissue, Recycled Brawn Towels, and Recycled Northern Napkins. Also that year, the company sold twenty-two paper mills to Specialty Coatings Group.[6]

In 1997, the company merged with the Fort Howard Paper Company of Green Bay, forming the Fort James Corporation.[2][7][8] At the time of their merger, James River was one of the largest paper manufacturers, with 60 manufacturing facilities in North America and Europe.[1] Three years later in 2000, Fort James was acquired by Georgia-Pacific, based in Atlanta.[9][10]

In 1998, Halsey and Williams, the company's founders, were both inducted into the Paper Industry International Hall of Fame.[11][12]


The historical records of the James River Corporation are housed at the Virginia Historical Society.[2]


  1. ^ a b c d e "James River Corp". Washington Post. April 28, 1997. Retrieved July 18, 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "James River Corporation". Virginia Historical Society. Retrieved July 18, 2016.
  3. ^ a b "Green Bay operations". Retrieved July 18, 2016.
  4. ^ "Financier obtains control of Crown Zellerbach". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). Associated Press. July 26, 1985. p. 1B.
  5. ^ "Goldsmith wins in C-Z takeover". The Bulletin. (Bend Oregon). UPI. July 26, 1985. p. A13.
  6. ^ "COMPANY NEWS; James River to Sell Special Paper Unit". New York Times. March 19, 1991. Retrieved July 18, 2016.
  7. ^ "James River to acquire Fort Howard in paper deal". Reading Eagle. (Pennsylvania). Associated Press. May 6, 1997. p. D9.
  8. ^ "Paper Product Firms in $5.8-Billion Merger". Los Angeles Times. May 6, 1997. Retrieved July 18, 2016.
  9. ^ Carpenter, Dave (July 18, 2000). "Georgia-Pacific acquiring tissue producer Fort James". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Associated Press. p. E3.
  10. ^ "Georgia Pacific completes acquisition of Fort James, becomes world's leading tissue producer". U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Press Release No. C-1640. November 27, 2000. Retrieved April 18, 2022.
  11. ^ "Brenton Halsey". Paper Industry International Hall of Fame. Retrieved July 18, 2016.
  12. ^ "Robert Williams". Paper Industry International Hall of Fame. Retrieved July 18, 2016.