Many model railroaders use Homasote®, but few know its background. The story begins in August 1909, when Eugenius Outerbridge incorporated the Agasote Milling Co. and built a manufacturing plant in Trenton Junction, N.J. (which was on the Reading's main line). He had acquired the rights to make a special high-density wood fiberboard developed in England. This material proved useful in the construction of railroad passenger cars and then automobiles. As a result, Outerbridge and his firm prospered.

In 1916, they introduced a strong, lightweight, and weather-resistant board called Homasote. Used widely overseas during World War I, Homasote soon dominated sales and led to the firm's being renamed the Homasote Co. in 1936.

Homasote, for those of you that don't know, is made from old newspapers, lottery tickets, and paperback books. These materials are made into the fiberboard by a process that converts the paperback to wood fiber pulp; refines, presses, and dries this material; and ends with it cut into sheets. The gray color is a remnant of the inks in the recycled paper.

In this era of environmental concern, it's worth noting that each ton of Homasote saves 17 trees and 3 cubic yards of landfill space. Annually, that's 1.4 million trees and 247,000 cubic yards of landfill space.

- Writen by Richard C. Albert


 

 
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