Great Northern Paper Company

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Great Northern Paper Company mill, in Millinocket, Maine (1907).

Great Northern Paper Company is a Maine-based pulp and paper manufacturer that at its peak in the 1970s and 1980s operated mills in Georgia, Maine, and Wisconsin and produced 16.4 percent of the newsprint made in the United States.[1]

The company was acquired by Georgia-Pacific Corporation in 1990. Its name was revived in 2011 when private equity firm Cate Street Capital acquired Great Northern's original Maine mills.



Great Northern Paper Company log pile in Millinocket (1908).

The company got its start when the Maine legislature authorized Charles W. Mullen to form a water power company on the West Branch Penobscot River. Mullen in turn worked with Garret Schenck, part owner of the Rumford Falls Paper Company, to build a paper mill in Millinocket, Penobscot County, Maine on the river. Schenck formed the Northern Development Company in 1897.

The Millinocket plant opened in 1900. A second mill in Madison opened in 1906. A third one opened in East Millinocket in 1907, which also had its own dam and hyrdoelectric facility.[2] Financiers of the corporation included Oliver Payne and William Collins Whitney.[3]

When the Millinocket Mill opened it was the world's largest paper mill, producing 240 tons/day of newsprint, 120 tons/day of sulfite pulp, and 240 tons/day of ground wood pulp.[4][5]

In the 1910s it built the Ripogenus Dam and powerplant on the West Branch Penobscot River.

In 1930 the company sold 6,000 acres (24 km2) around Maine's highest point Mount Katahdin for $25,000 to former Maine Governor Percival Proctor Baxter. In turn Baxter donated the land to the state, for what became the present day Baxter State Park.

In the 1940s its timber holdings increased to more than 2 million acres and its work force was supplemented during World War II by a prisoner of war camp at Seboomook Farm near Moosehead Lake.[2]

20th century mergers and acquisitions[edit]

In 1962 the Great Northern Paper Company expanded to Jakin, Georgia, where it formed a subsidiary named the Great Southern Land and Paper Company. It produced corrugated linerboard.[2]

In 1970 the Great Northern Paper Company merged with the Nekoosa-Edwards Paper Company in Nekoosa, Wisconsin and was renamed the Great Northern Nekoosa Corporation.[2]

In 1971 the company completed construction of the 97 mile Golden Road in Maine, that paralleled the West Branch Penobscot River from Quebec to its mill at Millinocket. It ended the practice of floating logs down the river via log driving, and instead shipping them by truck.[2]

In 1989 Georgia-Pacific launched a hostile takeover of the company which closed in 1990 for $3.8 billion.[6] Georgia-Pacific in turn sold the Maine holdings to Bowater of South Carolina in 1991.[2]

In 1999 Inexcon, a Canadian company, acquired the Maine holdings.

21st century[edit]

The Inexcon holdings in Maine went into bankruptcy in 2002. They were acquired by Brascan Corporation in April 2003 and operated under the name of Kathadin Paper Company LLC. That company then developed financial problems, laying off workers in 2008.[2]

In 2011 the Kathadin Paper Company LLC holdings in Maine were acquired by Cate Street Capital of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. They revived the Great Northern Paper name.[7] The mill at East Millinocket has launched again although with diminished output.

In 2013 Cate Street Capital announced plans to tear down virtually all the mill buildings at the Millinocket plant, and replace them with structures to operate a Torrefaction wood operation, under the name of its subsidiary Thermogen Industries.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Great Northern Nekoosa Corporation - Lehman Brothers Collection". Retrieved 2013-08-06. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "Fogler Library: Finding Guide to the Great Northern Paper Company Records". Retrieved 2013-08-06. 
  3. ^ "Birth of the Paper Giant | Great Northern Paper". Retrieved 2013-08-06. 
  4. ^ "Town Manager". Retrieved 2013-08-06. 
  5. ^ "History of Papermaking: Maine Pulp and Paper Association". Retrieved 2013-08-06. 
  6. ^
  7. ^ "Great Northern Paper". Retrieved 2013-08-06. 
  8. ^ Sambides, Nick (2013-02-23). "Millinocket Great Northern Paper buildings to be torn down to make way for industrial park — Business — Bangor Daily News — BDN Maine". Retrieved 2013-08-06. 

External links[edit]