Birth of the Paper Giant

More money was needed in order to get the project off the ground, so Schenck resigned his position with IP and went to New York. Colonel Oliver Payne, a former treasurer of Standard Oil, was interested; as was his brother-in-law, William Whitney, who was once the Secretary of the Navy. Paynne and Whitney were already in business together, owning two sulphite mills, one in Wisconsinn and the other in Madison, Maine.

These two wealthy men agreed to back the project, on the condition that Schenck agreed to run the Madison plant as well, since it had been doing poorly.

On March 2, 1899, the new enterprise was named the Great Northern Paper Company. Mullen and Schenck sold their interest in the land to GNP in return for stock in the company, and Colonel Payne sold them the Madison mill for stock.

Great Northern bought all of the available land between the two waterways, about 1,800 acres, enough to contain the mill and the village that would spring up around it.

Harvey Ferguson served as the Great Northern’s first chief consulting engineer. George Stearns was employed as the Company’s land agent, and it soon acquired 252,060 acres of forest land.

Construction on the mill began on May 15, 1899, and the first newsprint came off of its machines on November 9, 1900. The whole plant was operational five months later.

Great Northern’s founding father, Charles Mullen, resigned at the end of 1900, and was replaced by a Fred Gilbert, a Bangor native who took on the important task of procuring wood for the mill.

© Michelle Anderson 2005-2014