Luke mill

Mountain Ridge High School’s historical research methods class has made a documentary about the former Luke paper mill, “The Luke Mill: More Than Paper.” The film premiered on two 20-foot inflatable screens at Miner Stadium. The mill was established in 1888 by William Luke and his family. It was closed in June 2019 by the Verso Corp. due to a decline in demand for coated paper, rising costs and competition from overseas.

LUKE — The Verso Corp., owner of the Luke Paper Mill, said no offers have been tendered on the property and it is preparing the site for sale to third parties for alternative uses.

The historic mill was opened in 1888 by Scottish emigrant William Luke and his sons John and David. The mill was closed in May of last year by Verso, who took ownership in 2015.

Verso said this week in a response to an inquiry by the Times-News that it has received no viable offers for the mill.

“We regret that after broad proactive marketing efforts in cooperation with Maryland state and local officials, and an exhaustive search to identify a buyer, Verso has received no viable offers to purchase and operate the Luke Mill facility,” the statement said. “While there was initial interest and several entities toured the mill, unfortunately none found the facility an immediate fit for their intended purposes.”

Officials said they are preparing the site for sale to third parties for alternative uses.

“We are hopeful that the site one day will again serve the local business community and residents, but certainly understand this is a disappointing development,” the statement read. “We continue to work with the town of Luke, and nearby communities of Westernport and Piedmont, to transition certain assets and services previously managed as part of the local site, and also to coordinate in transparency with the Maryland Department of the Environment and West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection to develop and implement site remediation plans.”

The mill at Luke was the first commercially successful wood/sulphite pulp and paper mill in the United States. It obtained that achievement just a few years after production began at the facility in the summer of 1889. The mill employed more than 2,500 people in the 1960s.

Verso Corp., with its corporate office in Miamisburg, Ohio, currently operates four pulp and paper mills.

Follow staff writer Greg Larry on Twitter @GregLarryCTN.

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Greg Larry is a reporter at the Cumberland Times-News. To reach him, call 304-639-4951, email glarry@times-news.com and follow him on Twitter @greglarryctn.