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MeadWestvaco was created by the merger of the paper company Mead and Westvaco, a company with a long history in West Virginia. The company began in 1888, when William Luke founded the Piedmont Pulp & Paper Company at what is now Luke, Maryland, near Piedmont in Mineral County. In 1889, Luke opened a pulp mill on an island in the North Branch of the Potomac opposite Piedmont and incorporated the company under the new name of the West Virginia Paper Company. The company opened its headquarters in New York City in 1894 and in 1897 consolidated various businesses to form the West Virginia Pulp & Paper Company.

In addition to the mill near Piedmont, West Virginia Pulp & Paper Company had mills in Davis, West Virginia, Tyrone, Pennsylvania, and Covington, Virginia. In 1900, West Virginia Pulp & Paper began constructing a sawmill and a new town at Cass. The company formed the Greenbrier, Cheat & Elk Railroad to connect its surrounding timberlands to the sawmill at Cass and to the Chesepeake & Ohio’s Greenbrier River line. Incorporated in 1910, the logging railroad was chartered to run between Bemis, in Randolph County, and Webster Springs.

The company branched into the mining business when it opened its Hopkins Mine in Randolph County. The mine and others opened by the company were used to supply coal for locomotives and other equipment, such as log loaders and skidders.

In 1937, the company built a bleached paperboard mill in South Carolina. In 1969, the company changed its name to Westvaco, built a fine papers mill in Kentucky in 1970, began acquiring various companies, and developed international operations. The merger of Westvaco and Mead, another long-existing paper company, was approved in 2002, with headquarters in Stamford, Connecticut. Corporate headquarters were moved to Richmond in 2006.

MeadWestvaco owns about 1.36 million acres of forests in the United States and Brazil, including about 214,000 acres in West Virginia. The MeadWestvaco Wildlife and Ecosystem Research Forest was established on 8,430 acres in Randolph County.