Unveiling the 126-year history of the Wisconsin Rapids Paper Mill (2023)

Unveiling the 126-year history of the Wisconsin Rapids Paper Mill (1)

We are approaching a paper city

Caitlin ShudaWisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune


WISCONSIN RAPIDS - Throughout its history, the paper mill on the rapids of the Wisconsin River has been more than just a mill.

Of course, it was first and foremost an economic engine and job generator, and in that role it became the bedrock of a city once known as Grand Rapids to the east and Centralia to the west.

But the story of today's Verso factory is also a story of perseverance, innovation, creativity and community relationships that extends well beyond its walls or the millions of tons of paper produced in the factory's 126 years. .

These ties began to unravel since the Mead family, who had run the company since the early 20th century, bought Consolidated Papers Inc. to Stora Enso Oyj in 2000. Layoffs and job losses continued over the years. and Verso Paper Corp. each took turns running the factory. And with each move, the factory's involvement in the larger Wisconsin Rapids community diminished.

Now, what's left of that community connection may be coming to an end after Verso announced in June that it would indefinitely shut down the Rapids plant, laying off all but a small number of employees while it was over thinking about the future of the plant.

As the indefinite closure of the Verso paper mill in Wisconsin Rapids continues, the Daily Tribune has trawled through more than a century of news archives and other reports for a better look at the mill's history and its impact on community growth and health. .

Unveiling the 126-year history of the Wisconsin Rapids Paper Mill (2)

It all started with a river.

Unveiling the 126-year history of the Wisconsin Rapids Paper Mill (3)

In August 1894, the Tribune praised a group of men who were plotting to form a company to harness the hydroelectric power of the Wisconsin River. Nearly a dozen men decided to consolidate their lands, small businesses, and hydropower efforts and work together to build a single, stronger company. Together they would build a dam to harness the energy needed to run a paper mill and provide excess electricity to the community.

"Everyone said, 'If only it could be done'. Some brave ones even dared to prophesy: ​​'It will be done, but it will take time to happen'. The history of twin cities has begun," the April 4 article read. August 1894.

The group organized the Consolidated Water Power Co. of Centralia and Grand Rapids, often referred to as the Twin Cities, in July of that year and acquired almost all of the land on both sides of the river. They wanted to build a dam on the river to harness the power and bring industry and residents to the area.

It turned out to be a complicated process as some of the landowners in the group who initially agreed felt “cheated, cheated, cheated, cheated” about the intent of the project. They gave their possessions to the group charters, but not everyone was willing to give up their lands or control.

After some lawsuits, Consolidated Water Power Co. returned the deeds to their original owners, but company directors Nels Johnson and J.D. Witter eventually bought Consolidated's land and built a dam on the river.

Meet the Founders of Consolidated Water Power & Paper Co.

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In the July 27, 1904 issue of the Daily Tribune, an article eulogized the new Consolidated Water Power & Paper Co. and introduced its founders to the community. That's what they wrote.

Jere D. Witter

One of the founders of Consolidated Water Power and Paper Co. Mr. Witter was a firm believer in the paper industry during his lifetime and owned a large stake in the consolidated company, as well as many other paper mill interests. He was one of the pioneers of Grand Rapids and had a keen financial interest in the city. Before his death, he made several attempts to persuade his company to build a paper mill, but failed.

Unveiling the 126-year history of the Wisconsin Rapids Paper Mill (4)

Nels Johnson

The first President of the Consolidated Water Power Co. and one of the founders of the organization. One of Mr. Johnson's greatest ambitions was to see a paper mill located where the current mill is located, and as he was traveling east to check out the mill's machinery, he died suddenly.

Unveiling the 126-year history of the Wisconsin Rapids Paper Mill (5)

George W. Mead I

Secretary and Manager of Consolidated Water Power and Paper Co. Mr. Mead is a relatively new addition to our business people ranks, but he has identified so closely with the interests of the city and has done so much to advance those interests and advance the work of the consolidated company that he already comes across as an old timer. It is thanks in large part to their energy and tireless dedication that the magnificent factory is where it is today and that the purpose for which the company was founded has been fulfilled.

Unveiling the 126-year history of the Wisconsin Rapids Paper Mill (6)

CG. Oberlich

Operations manager of the Consolidated Water, Energy and Paper Company. Mister. Oberly, although young, can be considered a pioneer of papermaking in the Wisconsin River Valley. The first paper made on the Wisconsin River was made by Centralia Pulp and Water Power Co. In the spring of 1891, Mr. Oberly acts as superintendent. The second mill on the river that made paper was the Wisconsin River Paper and Pulp Co., near Stevens Point, and this mill also came under the supervision of Mr. Oberlich. The manner in which these factories were founded is a testament to the great merit of their first superintendent. Mister. Oberly also managed the Itasca Paper Company's new plant in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, where he earned the Itasca plant an enviable reputation for producing the finest printed paper of any plant in the West.

Unveiling the 126-year history of the Wisconsin Rapids Paper Mill (7)

F. Mackinnon

President of the Consolidated Company of Water, Energy and Paper. Mister. MacKinnon is a native of England but has been identified with the business interests of Grand Rapids for many years as one of the founders and principal owners of F. MacKinnon Manufacturing Co., makers of buckets, radios and carts.

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Unveiling the 126-year history of the Wisconsin Rapids Paper Mill (8)

Pedro Diedrich

The man who built the dam for the consolidated city. Mister. Diedrich began fetching water for a group of men who worked for the government on the Fox River many years ago, and learned all about building a dam from scratch. In addition to the consolidated dam, it built five more on the Wisconsin River, two on the Upper Fox, two on the Lower Fox, one on the Flat River, and one on the Oconto River. The people at Consolidated felt fortunate, Mr. Diedrich, to build their dam, and their work showed they were wise in their choice.

Unveiling the 126-year history of the Wisconsin Rapids Paper Mill (9)

Nel Marcoux

Mister. Marcoux is a carpenter at Consolidated's paper mill and thanks to his meticulous attention to detail everything went so smoothly when it came time to open the paper mill. Mister. Marcoux is a relatively young man, but he is one of those geniuses who start life in the profession that suits them best and are extremely successful at it. His father before him was a millwright, and an exceptionally good one at that. Mister. Marcoux also worked as a carpenter at the Shawano and Itasca paper mills. Consolidated people swear by Mr. Marcoux.

Unveiling the 126-year history of the Wisconsin Rapids Paper Mill (10)

JC Jacobson

The architect who made the plans for the new factory. Mister. Jacobson is an expert in paper mill construction and has conducted many studies on hydropower. At his suggestion, the original location of the dam downstream was altered and the shape and style of the dam was executed according to his lines, and the results show his skill. Mister. Jacobson is a self-made man who started out as a carpenter, rose to become a factory builder and later studied architecture related to hydropower and paper mill construction.

Unveiling the 126-year history of the Wisconsin Rapids Paper Mill (11)

Isaac P. Witter

Treasurer of the Consolidated Water Power and Paper Co. Mr. Witter, while young, probably has as many interests in Grand Rapids as any man in town. In addition to being Treasurer of Consolidated, he is Vice President of the Bank of Grand Rapids, in which he owns a large interest and spends most of his time. A product of Grand Rapids, he was born in the city and has lived almost his entire life here, except for the few years that he attended college and traveled abroad.

Unveiling the 126-year history of the Wisconsin Rapids Paper Mill (12)

George M. Colina

One of the directors of the Consolidated Water Power and Paper Company. Mister. Hill is also a member of Johnson & Hill Company and has been identified with the business interests of Grand Rapids for many years. There are probably few men in town whose face is more familiar to the people of Grand Rapids and the surrounding area than Mr. Hügel's.

Unveiling the 126-year history of the Wisconsin Rapids Paper Mill (13)

WD Connor

Vice President of the Consolidated Company of Water, Energy and Paper. Mister. Connor is a resident of Marshfield but has strong beliefs in the business future of the new factory as he has a significant interest in the factory. Mister. Connor is one of the state's leading lumberjacks and is known as one of Central Wisconsin's savvy businessmen.

Unveiling the 126-year history of the Wisconsin Rapids Paper Mill (14)


Mister. Simons is an electrician at Consolidated Water Power and Paper Company. Mister. Simons is a qualified electrician and anyone who examines the work he has done for the Consolidated staff will readily agree that his work is consistent with the rest of the facility, which is about all there is to say about it can tell him. He is enthusiastic about the topic of electrically driven machines and is firmly convinced that even more will be achieved in this area in the future than has been the case so far. All associated with the company agree that the company has been fortunate to have the services of Mr Simons and there is no doubt that his work is among the best in the country.

Unveiling the 126-year history of the Wisconsin Rapids Paper Mill (15)


Unveiling the 126-year history of the Wisconsin Rapids Paper Mill (16)

The paper starts to roll

Unveiling the 126-year history of the Wisconsin Rapids Paper Mill (17)

The next step was to set up a paper mill. Preparations began in 1903 when the company, renamed Consolidated Water Power & Paper Co., purchased two paper machines for $95,000 and began construction of a mill to be powered by power from the company's hydroelectric power plant.

George W. Mead I, Witter's son-in-law, came on the scene in January 1903 after the deaths of the company leaders.

Mead planned to return to Rockford, Illinois, having arrived in town the previous year when Witter died following surgery. But they convinced him to stay after Johnson, the only remaining member of the original partnership, died in December.

Initially, the Tribune reported, he had already "showed signs of being a crook" and was very interested in the position.

Mead began as the company's secretary and manager and was elected president of the company in 1916.

Unveiling the 126-year history of the Wisconsin Rapids Paper Mill (18)

The new factory was built between February 1903 and April 1904, with the first product being produced on June 2, 1904. The Daily Tribune commemorated the opening of the factory with a feature in its July 27, 1904 issue. The newspaper on which it was printed consolidated paper, and the articles presented the history of the mill, introduced its founders, and explained to readers how the company made paper.

The company regularly modernized its equipment and buildings over the years and in 1911 bought the factory at Biron, 4 miles up the river. Five years later he bought a factory in Appleton and Timberland in northern Minnesota, Wisconsin and Canada. In 1918 the Consolidated Water Power & Paper Co. built a new paper mill at Stevens Point.

Unveiling the 126-year history of the Wisconsin Rapids Paper Mill (19)

The reforestation is intended to secure the future of the company

Unveiling the 126-year history of the Wisconsin Rapids Paper Mill (20)

When the sawmill began operations, the company sourced much of its pulpwood from local farmers, who sold it to Consolidated for $4 a rope. But the wood supplies in the area were running out.

This shortage not only motivated the purchase of logging land, but also some unconventional sources, including permission for villagers to fell trees on company-owned land near the river.

A January 24, 1918 report called the removal of dead trees in Hunter and Long Islands a "lively time in this neighborhood".

In 1921, the company again faced shortages of pulp, and Consolidated began shipping large quantities of lumber from Canada for the first time. “virtually sold out” in the country. To replace it, Consolidated began work on processes to make paper from birch, poplar, maple, and cottonwood.

Consolidated began investing in forestry in the 1930's when it began replanting spruce forests in northern Wisconsin to secure future supplies of papermaking raw materials. Over the next few years, Consolidated acquired thousands of acres of land and began planting trees in Forest, Langlade and Oconto counties. Nekoosa-Edwards Paper Co. and the State Department of Conservation joined Consolidated in the reforestation effort.

Unveiling the 126-year history of the Wisconsin Rapids Paper Mill (21)

To form a more perfect union

Unveiling the 126-year history of the Wisconsin Rapids Paper Mill (22)

Employees organized a union in 1919 and intended to work with the American Federation of Labor. At first, the company's president, George W. Mead I, told them that the company would not recognize the union, but he encouraged them to disband and form an independent local union that would not be associated with outside influences. As a result, the plant and around 200 employees stopped work and let the plant rest.

A union leader explained that the workers were making $200 less a year than other factory workers, comparable to $3,441.76 today. After a brief shutdown, employees returned to work and formed a union affiliated with the American Federation of Labor.

The union negotiated an eight-hour day effective December 1, 1919. In 1920 the union and company agreed on a new pay scale in all consolidated factories that raised wages from $3.60 a day to $4.50 a day, which matched other factory rates. in the state. Each department introduced the eight-hour day to all departments, as some worked nine-hour days.

The five-day week emerged at Consolidada in 1931 when the company faced layoffs of 30 to 40 workers. The company slowed its expansion efforts and needed fewer employees as operations became more efficient. Instead, employees offered to reduce their work hours from six to five days a week to spread the workload among them. Instead of laying off employees, Consolidated was able to hire new ones.

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A September 1, 1931 Daily Tribune article said the move set an example for the industry in Wisconsin and across the country.

"The solution to the problem of unemployment must be found through a better distribution of work," says the article. "If the industry continues to put some men on long hours, the inevitable result will be that other men become unemployed."

By 1933, the Wisconsin Rapids and Biron factories were working multiple shifts and had added over 100 workers between the two factories.

In November 1948, Consolidated announced that it would create a pension fund to supplement employees' Social Security benefits. All permanent employees of the company who are at least 25 years old and have worked for the company for at least three consecutive years can voluntarily join the plan to receive a lifetime annual pension upon retirement. The program was a joint effort by the company and its employees.

Unveiling the 126-year history of the Wisconsin Rapids Paper Mill (23)

It was a family business for the Meads.

Unveiling the 126-year history of the Wisconsin Rapids Paper Mill (24)

J.D. Witter's descendants played key roles in the company for over a century.

George and Ruth Mead had two sons and one daughter: Stanton Witter Mead, Walter Langworthy Mead and Emily Mead Baldwin. Both Stanton and Walter Mead returned to Wisconsin Rapids from school at Yale to work for the company. Both held management positions within the company and held positions on the board of directors.

After George W. Mead I suffered a stroke and resigned in 1950, Stanton Mead became president of the company and Walter Mead took over its Chicago sales office.

Stanton's son, George W. Mead II, joined the company in 1952 and became President and CEO of Consolidated when his father retired in 1966.

Unveiling the 126-year history of the Wisconsin Rapids Paper Mill (25)

a paper town

Unveiling the 126-year history of the Wisconsin Rapids Paper Mill (26)

Consolidated also focused on the communities where its factories operated.

In 1944, Consolidated donated its Hotel Witter and Eagles Clubhouse properties along the river to the city, along with several other properties on the east side of the riverfront, for conversion of acreage into riverside parks. Today, several parks are located along the east side of the river, including Legion Park, Mead Rapids View Park, Veterans Memorial Park, and the East Riverbank Conservancy.

George W. Mead I, John B. Arpin, and L.A. Deguere served on a committee raising funds for a public swimming pool built in 1913 as a safer option for swimmers than the Wisconsin River. It was built in Legion Park near the river and the water was originally diverted from the dam into the pool. In December 1945, George W. Mead I donated $6,000 to improve the pool. His son Stanton wrote a letter to the city saying his father wanted to use the money to help improve the existing swimming pool in the park along First Street North.

Consolidated also donated $55,000 to rebuild the concrete pool in 1955 and $75,000 to renovate the pool in 1986. This pool closed in 1999.

The family was also involved in the development of Riverview Hospital. The hospital was built in 1904 as part of the renovation of a private home on the South High Street. In 1912 it was given to the Riverview Hospital Association, headed by George W. Mead I. In 1941, the city gave a park south of Dewey Street at Fourth Street South to the hospital and the family of George Mead I and Witter donated land at the side of the hospital. Riverview moved to a new building in 1942. In 1963, Consolidated partnered with Nekoosa-Edwards Paper to provide $1.2 million to build a new Riverview Hospital, and Consolidated officials pledged an additional $175,000 to the project.

La Consolidated Papers Foundation Inc. I began giving money to various community programs such as the Arts Council of South Wood County, the Lowell Senior Citizens Center, the hospice program at St. Joseph's Hospital in Marshfield, the town zoo, the South Wood County Humane Society and more. The organization changed its name to the Mead Witter Foundation in 2000 after Consolidated sold its factories to Stora Enso.

Fun fact: I bet you didn't know...

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Von Caitlin Shuda, Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune

breaking records

Consolidated Hydropower & Paper Co. set several production records. In April 1905 the factory produced 77.5 tons of paper in 24 hours, enough to print the newspaper for 14 years, the Daily Tribune reported. By 1920, Consolidated was operating the world's fastest paper machine, producing 1,200 feet of paper per minute, beating the fiercest Maine competition, which was running 900 feet. Within a year, Consolidated set a new record of 1,400 feet of paper per minute.

let's go team

Consolidated employees organized company sports teams. Staff managed baseball, softball and volleyball teams, a bowling league and more.

Please drum roll

The company also organized a 30-piece band in 1919. The band Consolidated Water Power & Paper Co. performed in the area, performing in Milwaukee in 1920 and 1921 for the Wisconsin State Fair. The band played for three days during the six-day mass in 1920. The band disbanded in 1929, and many members joined the town band.

Run the mill, run the town

Factory workers persuaded their boss, George W. Mead I, to run for mayor in 1926. He received 2,060 votes in the election, while the other two candidates combined received 772 votes. Mead served three terms as mayor of Wisconsin Rapids. In 1928 he ran unsuccessfully for the US Senate.

paper airplane

Consolidated made a paper-based plastic material called Consoweld during World War II, which was used to make airplanes for war. Sheets of laminated paper were pressed onto plastic panels and it was a lightweight product, 40% stronger than aluminum of the same weight.

plastic houses

Consolidated also built houses outside of Consoweld. In 1947, the paper manufacturer started a plastic housing project to address the local housing shortage. The company built dozens of homes with Consoweld in Wisconsin Rapids that sold for between $8,985 and $9,240. War veterans were the first to buy these homes, which were also made of redwood siding and asphalt clapboard roofs, and featured a concrete basement, plumbing, electricity, storage, and a garage.

direct hit

Bull's Eye Country Club began as a private resort and summer home owned by George W. Mead I. By 1920 it was being used "for many purposes of a country club" and Mead even began building golf courses on the property. The Bull's Eye Country Club was officially incorporated in 1922 and had 50 members as of June of that year. Consolidated workers formed the Bull's Eye Credit Union in 1932 to serve factory workers. In 1943 the credit union had 1,692 members. Bull's Eye Credit Union merged with Connexus Credit Union of Wausau in December 2018.

necessity for operation

During a toilet paper shortage in 1946, Consolidated decided to temporarily relocate production and manufacture a special two-week emergency supply of toilet paper. “Operação Necessidade” made toilet paper available for employees and their families to purchase.

stay a while

Consolidated Hydropower & Paper Co. President. The hotel was named Hotel Mead in his honor and opened in 1951. It was renamed the Mead Inn in 1962 but reverted to the Hotel Mead in 1999. The factory continued to own the hotel until NewPage sold it to WR Hotel Properties in 2007. . . Founders Collection, a Marquette, Michigan corporation, purchased the hotel in January 2020.

Rust in peace

When the last steam locomotive in the area closed in 1957, Consolidated named it Old Smokey and hung a sign that read, "Well done, my faithful servant. Rust in peace. The company made a donation to the city to establish a permanent memorial at the city zoo.


Unveiling the 126-year history of the Wisconsin Rapids Paper Mill (27)

Sold: Enso, NewPage and Verso Run the Mill Stores

Unveiling the 126-year history of the Wisconsin Rapids Paper Mill (28)

After rumors circulated around the city in late 1999, Consolidated announced in February 2000 that it was selling its factories in a merger with Helsinki-based Stora Enso Oyj.

Residents and business owners in the area were shocked and concerned at what it would mean to put the local mill in someone else's hands, but George W. Mead II said it was a good fit and he was looking forward to working with Stora Enso.

"The company has been in the Mead family for almost 100 years," Mead said in 2000. "But there is no longer a family [involved in the business]. So it was obvious and inevitable that something had to be done. … We did what was best for the company and what was best for the community.”

Sales ended on August 31, 2000.

The next few years were difficult for the paper mill and its employees as Stora Enso North America laid off hundreds of employees.


Paper mill timeline: from consolidated to Stora EnsotoNewPageto Verso

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Von Nathaniel Shuda, Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune

July 16, 1894

The Company operates under the corporate title of Consolidated Water Power Co. to consolidate several small hydropower companies on the Wisconsin River. That we. Mack and C.A. Spencer becomes the new company's flagship store between the High Street and Jackson Street.


Company name changes to Consolidated Water Power & Paper Co. Amended articles of incorporation to include paper manufacture.


The Wisconsin Rapids Division begins operations with the world's first electric paper machines.


Takeover of the Biron Division. The Wisconsin Rapids and Biron mills produce newsprint and wallpaper.


Acquisition of Appleton's Interlake Division to ensure a continuous supply of sulfite pulp. closed in 1982.


Start of construction of board machine no. 13. The machine, which uses waste paper as a source of pulp, starts production in 1917.


Consolidated builds Stevens Point paper mill and hydroelectric power station. Mill produces tissue and specialty papers. The first paper machine starts production in 1919; the second in 1921.


Newaygo Timber Co. Ltd. acquired a significant acreage of forest land in Ontario, Canada.


New Paper Machine No. 14 built at the Wisconsin Rapids Division. It begins in 1921.


New Paper Machine No. 23 built at Biron Division. It begins in 1923.


Thunder Bay Division was completed at Port Arthur, Ontario. The factory will be sold at the end of the year.


The forest management program begins with an effort to secure a supply of wood for future use.


Consolidated produces the first coated paper made in a single high-speed operation at the Wisconsin Rapids Division.*


Paper Machine #15, built in the Wisconsin Rapids Division. It carries the motto "Built for Life, Operated for Life" in recognition of his production for Life magazine.


Using coating technology, Consolidated develops a tough plastic material for the manufacture of World War II aircraft equipment. In 1945, this process is used to make a decorative laminate called Consoweld.


Consolidated acquires Wisconsin River Pulp and Paper Co. in Whiting. It is known as the Wisconsin River Division of Consolidated. It was the last newsprint mill in Wisconsin. Consolidated is converting its two paper machines to produce coated paper.


Ahdawagam Paper Product Co. (now Paperboard Products), a manufacturer of paperboard, folding boxes and paperboard cores, merged with Consolidated.


The Mead Hotel opens as one of the country's first motorized inns.


Consoweld's new factory was built for the production of decorative laminates. Sold in 1985.


New Paper Machines No. 25 built at Biron Division. It starts in 1957.


Start of the establishment of the research and development department. Completed in 1960.


Construction of Paper Machine #63 in the Wisconsin River Division begins. It was founded in 1961 and produced lightly coated papers for magazines and catalogues.


Company name changed from Consolidated Water Power & Paper Co. to Consolidated Papers Inc.


Start of construction of the Kraft division (pulp mill). Production begins in 1968.


Consolidated acquires Castle Rock Container Co., a corrugated container plant in Adams. Sold in 1999.


The company begins construction of a heavier weight coated paper converting facility at Rapids Division in Wisconsin. It became operational in 1974.


The company is building a water quality center and a water renewal center.


Consolidated begins construction of Paper Machine #64 in the Wisconsin River Division. It started producing paper for magazines and catalogs in 1979.*


The company starts building the extension of paper machine No. 26 in the Biron division. It started in 1986 producing paper for magazines and catalogues.


Consolidated undergoes Paper Machine Expansion #34 at Stevens Point Division. It started in 1990 to manufacture lightweight, coated specialty papers for packaging and labels, kraft paper, barcode labels, and pressure-sensitive self-adhesive papers.


The expansion begins on the #16 paper machine in Wisconsin's Rapids Division. Started in 1992 manufacturing heavier coated printing paper for annual reports, brochures and other items.


Construction of Stevens Point Paper Machine Extension #35 begins. Started in 1997 manufacturing lightweight coated specialty papers for food and consumer packaging and labels, wrapping paper, barcode labels and pressure-sensitive self-adhesive papers.*


Consolidated Acquisition of Wisconsin Paper Corp. Niagara and Lake Superior Paper Industries/Superior Recycled Fiber Industries of Duluth, Minnesota.


Consolidated buys Repap USA and acquires Repap's Kimberly facility.

February 22, 2000

Stora Enso Oyj, based in Helsinki, buys Consolidated Papers Inc.


The company converts paper machine no. 14 to special papers.


The Wisconsin Rapids plant celebrates its 100th anniversary as it undergoes a $50 million rebuild of its #16 paper machine.

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The Stora Enso-owned facility receives the Wisconsin Business Friend of the Environment award in recognition of its pollution prevention efforts. The projects carried out reduce greenhouse gas emissions, minimize the sending of sewage sludge to landfill and reduce operating costs.

December 2007

Stora Enso is selling its North American business to Miamisburg, Ohio-based NewPage Corp for $2.6 billion. The sale includes all eight Stora Enso factories on the mainland.

February 15, 2008

NewPage is selling Hotel Mead to Glencoe, Illinois-based Harlan Sanders for $2.9 million.

21. June 2008

The Ohio-based company is closing its Niagara plant and cutting about 320 jobs.

March 24, 2009

The papermaker announces that it has completed the sale of its Little Quinnesec hydroelectric power station in Niagara to Chicago-based Northbrook Energy.

24. April 2009

NewPage announces plans to put its Kimberly paper mill up for sale. The facility closed on September 8, 2008, eliminating nearly 600 jobs in Fox Valley.

12. October 2009

NewPage announces the indefinite shutdown of machine #63 at its Whiting facility as part of a plan to eliminate 160,000 tons of market-related shutdowns in the fourth quarter.

February 10, 2010

Wisconsin Rapids Common Council approves an agreement for the city's electric utility to purchase transmission and distribution systems from NewPage subsidiary Consolidated Water Power Co. for $9 million.*

March 1, 2010

NewPage is restarting its No. 63 paper machine at Whiting, attributing the change to increased customer demand and reduced paper inventories.*

March 11, 2010

Consolidated announces its intention to sell its five dams and associated hydroelectric power plants on the Wisconsin River to Great Lakes Utilities, a consortium of Wisconsin public utility companies, for $70 million.

December 8, 2010

The company announces that it will close its whiting factory at the end of February, affecting around 360 employees.

7. September 2011

NewPage files for Chapter 11 protection in US bankruptcy court and begins the process of reorganizing the company to attempt to pay $3.4 billion in recorded debt.

July 2012

NewPage rejects $1.4 billion merger offer from Verso Paper Corp. based in Memphis, Tennessee, to meet its obligations.

December 21, 2012

NewPage announces it has exited Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

6 January 2014

NewPage and Verso jointly announce plans for Verso to acquire the Ohio-based papermaker for $1.4 billion.

1. November 2014

NewPage is selling its Biron and Rumford, Maine mills to Catalyst Paper Holdings ahead of its upcoming merger with Verso.

22 January 2015

Verso introduces the acquisition of the Wisconsin Rapids plant.

28 January 2016

Verso files for bankruptcy and gets a $600 million loan amid bankruptcy.

July 19, 2016

Verso emerges from bankruptcy and has paid off billions of dollars in debt.

4. June 2018

Catalyst Paper is selling its Biron facility to Hong Kong-based Nine Dragons Paper for US$175 million.

February 2020

Verso sells its Jay, Maine and Stevens Point facilities to Pixelle Specialty Solutions of Spring Grove, Pennsylvania.

9. June 2020

Verso announces that it will indefinitely close its paper mills in Wisconsin Rapids and Duluth, Minnesota.


Historical highlights from Consolidated Papers Inc., Stora Enso, NewPage and Verso websites, archives from the Wisconsin River Museum of Papermaking and the Daily Tribune


In December 2007, Stora Enso sold its North American business to NewPage Corp., a company based in Miamisburg, Ohio, for US$2.6 billion.

NewPage filed for bankruptcy in 2011 and emerged from the company in 2012 with a new restructuring plan. It sold its Biron and Rumford, Maine plants to Canada-based Catalyst Paper Holdings and sold its Wisconsin Rapids and Stevens plants. group

Unveiling the 126-year history of the Wisconsin Rapids Paper Mill (29)

Verso filed for bankruptcy protection in early 2016, but announced in July 2018 that it had paid off billions of dollars in debt and was emerging successfully from the restructured bankruptcy. Verso sold its Stevens Point factory to Pixelle Specialty Solutions in February and announced in June it would indefinitely shut down its plants in Wisconsin Rapids and Duluth, Minnesota. The shutdown began in Wisconsin Rapids in July and will continue in phases through the end of the year.

Verso told the Daily Tribune at the time of the announcement that it would continue to evaluate options, including marketing the facility for sale, restarting the facility when market conditions improve and closing the facility permanently.

Unveiling the 126-year history of the Wisconsin Rapids Paper Mill (30)

CAITLIN SHUDAis a Streetwise reporter who covers business news in her hometown of Wisconsin Rapids and Stevens Point. A fan of the sun, coffee, reading and music, she sings and plays several instruments in her church and in her free time. She is a cancer survivor who loves to connect with others and share her passions and stories.

Contact them at 715-424-7307 orcshuda@gannett.com; Follow her on Twitter at@CaitlinShuda

Unveiling the 126-year history of the Wisconsin Rapids Paper Mill (31)

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