There has been some kind of mill at 801 23rd St. in Hoquiam for more than 100 years. Earlier mills produced wooden boxes, while later ones made paper — tons and tons and tons of paper.
Soon it will be a vacant plot of land, another former industrial site. With the downfall of Harbor Paper, the mill’s assets will be auctioned off and the buildings will be torn down soon after.
The land’s industrial legacy began in 1899 when the Panel &Folding Box Company built a factory on the site, which became the National Lumber &Box Company in 1905, according to Polson Museum Director John Larson.
When the National mill burned down in 1924, it was quickly replaced with the site’s first paper mill — the ancestor of a string of paper mills that have operated there. Before Harbor Paper, there was Grays Harbor Paper, initially operated by local investors when ITT Rayonier and International Paper closed the mill in the early 1990s.
Maynards, an auction company with offices in Vancouver, B.C., currently owns all of the mill’s assets and will be responsible for tearing down the structures — or hiring someone to do it for them. The company will host a live and online auction Feb. 19 for the mill’s machinery, some of which will be sold for scrap.
“We’re not sure yet who will be tearing it down, but it could be one of the bidders,” said Mike Seibold, of Maynards. “We’ve been in contact with a few companies that are interested for the scrap value.”
The live auction will take place at Quinault Beach Resort &Casino. For more information about the online auction, visit www.biditup.com and search for “Harbor Paper.” Both auctions will begin at 9 a.m.
Seibold has been in town for a few weeks, taking inventory of the mill’s hundreds of machines — including two paper machines and 31 forklifts — and posting photos online. During that time, he’s taken about 100 potential buyers to inspect the machinery.
Bidders can make appointments to tour the facility this week, or they can preview the items without an appointment Feb. 17 and 18.
“Most of the bidders come out to inspect the equipment, or they send out a representative,” Seibold said. “They’ll spend half a day looking at what they want.”
Most of the potential buyers either run their own mills or are interested in the scrap value of the items.
“Based on the age of the paper machines, we expect people to mainly be interested in them for scrap value,” Seibold said. “They don’t have much value beyond that.”
Whoever tears down the mill will first need to purchase a $50 demolition permit from the City of Hoquiam, said City Administrator Brian Shay.