Northwest Paper Company which started in business 73 years ago has grown to be one of Brainerd's largest industries. It produces about 265 tons of paper each day and employs 68O persons.
Back of its modern activity lies a history which began in 1898 when C. I. Mcnair, Sr., Charles Weyerhaeuser, and R. D. Musser invested in construction of a groundwood mill and a one-machine newsprint mill in Cloquet.
The company also bought water rights along the Mississippi River near Brainerd, including the dam built by the Crow Wing Boom Co. in 1888.
A two-grinder pulp mill was constructed at the west end of the dam in 1903 and operated until 1911. The ground pulp was shipped to Cloquet.
In 1915, construction began on an integrated pulp and newsprint mill at the mill's present site on the east side of the river. The paper machine started operating April 20, 1917, at a production speed of 40 tons per day.
DAM AND PULP MILL--This is the dam and pulp mill in Brainerd as it appeared in 1905.
Newsprint was manufactured until 1934, when Canadian competition forced the company out of this market and the mill was closed for nine months. Operations were resumed on May 17, 1935, and production shifted to the manufacture of ground-wood hinging paper, used in the wallpaper business.
The old dam was rebuilt in 1916 and increased to a height of 20 feet as part of the expansion program. The old dam was 16 feet high.
Continuous improvements were made to the mill through-out the years. Some major improvements included increasing the speed of the paper machine in 1926; adding pulpwood grinders and converting some of the grinders to electric power drive in 1936; constructing a slush storage system in 1940; installing two pulpwood soaking ponds in 1946; rebuilding the dam destroyed by flood waters by the installation of a hydrapulper, and stock blending system in 1950; and modernizing the screen room in 1951.
The high speed paper machine increased the output of the Brainerd mill by approximately 330 percent.
+ Every early logging company had their own trade mark - marked on the end of logs. The Mississippi River floated millions of feet to mills south of Brainerd.|
+ On July 27, 1875, the bridge across the Mississippi collapsed under the weight of train -- 12 cars of steel rails and 10 cars of merchandise.
In 1964 a Coater machine was put into operation which puts a special finish on paper such as those used in high quality advertising brochures and in annual reports.
Conversion of the mill to its present type of production which is the production of fine chemical pulp papers for the converting and printing trade began in 1953.
A water filtration plant was constructed that year and the paper machine built to make the change possible. The change officially took place April 1, 1956, closing the wood yard, wood room and grinder room.
Only spruce pulpwood was used until 1929 for grinding. At that time, a small percentage of jackpine also began to be used. The jackpine was trucked to the mill from local areas. This operation continued until the groundwood mill was closed.
In 1943, the paper mill began a land acquisition program in the Brainerd area to insure the mill of a stable wood supply.
Reproduced from the Centennial Edition of the Brainerd Daily Dispatch (1871-1971).