Odds and Ends From The MUSEUM!
By Trudy Wyman, Curator, Millinocket Historical Society Museum
“Immense Plant for Great Northern Paper Co. Nears Completion” reads the headline in the Bangor Weekly Commercial dated June 8, 1900. A secondary headline states “Biggest in World”. A copy of this newspaper page can be seen at the Millinocket Historical Society museum. Things happened quickly in 1899 on the Millinocket project once Schenck (founder & first president of GNP), Ferguson (engineer who designed the mill) and others got things started. Construction contracts were signed for a newsprint mill with facilities for groundwood and sulfite production and eight paper machines. It would have a capacity of 240 tons per day. This number would make GNP the largest mill of its kind in the world at that time.
The railroad figured prominently in this new business venture and in February of 1899, a deal was made with the Bangor and Aroostook Railroad. The company gave B & A land for a station, freight house, roundhouse and turntable, yard space and the railroad would build the spur track from the main line to the mill yard.
The bulk of the construction work was done during the winter of 1899-1900. Some of the machinery had arrived in the spring and the 235 foot brick chimney, tallest in Maine at the time, had been completed in June. Work continued through the summer and fall. On Nov.1, 1900, President Schenck opened the gate that turned the water on the turbines. Then he turned on the electricity to the machines, pulled the lever to the log carrier and then moved on to start more of the links in the process. On Nov. 9, the first set of paper was turned up on No. 7 machine and six were running on Jan. 31, 1901. This was the beginning of GNP’s paper production referred to in the Bangor Weekly Commercial and the John McLeod book, The Northern, the Way I Remember.
Men of many nationalities worked on construction of this mill including a large number of Italians. Housing was a problem as there was no established town at first. Tents, boxcars and crude shacks provided shelter. Some barracks type buildings housed engineers and supervisors. Plans for the townsite were drawn up early by the company and some assistance was given by GNP to people who wanted to construct homes (on GNP land). Schenck did not want a typical company town with rowhouses and he determined that the company would retain control and would decide what was to be built and where.
In the Museum Store!
*** Preowned yearbooks – $10.00 each.
*** Matted photos, various prices – GNP mill, Little Italy, river drives, Mt. Katahdin.
*** DVD’s from both Little Italy Part 1 and Part 2 are available at the museum ($15 each) or mail order ($15 each).
***Books available: “Within Katahdin’s Realm, Log Drives and Sporting Camps” (Bill Geller) $30.00; “Logging Towboats & Boom Jumpers” (Moody) $18.00; “Tanglefoot,” (Edwards) $15.00; “Millinocket” (D. Duplisea) $20.00; “A Little Taste of History” cookbooks – $15.00; both Laverty books, $25 for history & $10 for architecture; “No Time for Moss (McKeen) $15.00.
*** All items may be mailed – add $5 SH each item.
*** For information, groups or appointments, contact Curator Trudy Wyman, 723-5477 or firstname.lastname@example.org or the Millinocket Historical Society, P. O. Box 11, on the web at www.millinockethistoricalsociety.org or on Facebook.