The location of the Gary Paxton Industrial Park has long been productive.
1940's The Dairy
Mr. Edward Morke of Sitka, in 1940, purchased land where Sawmill Creek emptied into the Pacific Ocean for the purpose of starting a business called the Sanitary Dairy.
Using the fresh waters of Sawmill Creek for his dairy cows, Mr. Morke provided fresh milk to Sitka's children. In 1947, the dairy was sold to Mr. Harold Rice where he operated it until 1952. It was then sold to John and Freda Van Horn who renamed it Blue Lake Farms and continued to produce milk until the mid 1950's.
Early 1960's Pulp Mill
In 1956 the site was sold to a newly formed company called Alaska Pulp Corporation. This company would go on to make the first Japanese investment in the United States since World War II.
In 1959, the Alaska Pulp Corporation pulp mill began producing wood fiber from timber harvested from the Tongass National Forest under a long term contract with the US Forest Service.
1980's Pulp Processing Facility
The mill employed 450 Sitkans at it's peak, making wood fiber used primarily in the production of rayon fabrics and later used in paper manufacturing. In 1993, Alaska Pulp Corporation announced the closure of the mill. After repeated attempts to sell the site and mill, Alaska Pulp decided to demolish the former mill and donate the site to the City of Sitka. In 1999, the City & Borough of Sitka officially took ownership of the site upon completion of demolition.
2000's The Industrial Park
Since 1999, the City has installed new utilities: potable water, sanitary sewer and electrical system at the park. A large diameter fresh water pipeline from Blue Lake to the shoreline and deep water wastewater outfall pipe have also been completed. Much of the industrial debris has been cleared and main roads within the core of the Park have been paved. In May of 2014, the Industrial Park was officially renamed the Gary Paxton Industrial Park (GPIP) in honor of Mr. Paxton's many contributions to the community of Sitka and his key role in acquiring the Park property for the City after closure of the pulp mill. In 2017 the City & Borough of Sitka will be installing a deep water dock that will allow for in-water boat maintenance and drive-down access, this will allow the GPIP to become a true marine industrial park.