The Old Town mill is pictured at various stages over the years. Credit: File / BDN

The Old Town mill has been through many changes in its more than 100-year history.

The Great Works property was originally built as a sawmill site in 1833 by Dwinel, Sawyer & Co., according to historical archives from the Old Town Museum. The site burned down in 1856 and was rebuilt the following year. Nine years later, the sawmill burned again and the site was eventually sold to William T. Pearson, Esq., of Bangor.

The following is a timeline of major events in Old Town’s economic history beginning with the establishment of the Penobscot Chemical Fiber Company on the former sawmill site.

Penobscot Chemical Fiber Co. in Old Town, circa late 1890’s. Credit: Courtesy of the Old Town Museum


Penobscot Chemical Fiber Co. is established.


PCF merges with Diamond International Corp., becomes Penobscot Division of Diamond International.


James River Corp. purchases the facility.

The 1996 fire in downtown Old Town. Credit: Courtesy of the Old Town Museum

October 1996

A fire destroys three buildings downtown, shutting down eight businesses.



James River merges with Fort Howard, creating Fort James Corp.

Old Town’s Georgia-Pacific paper mill is seen in an aerial photo in November 2005. Credit: Kevin Bennett | BDN

December 2000

Georgia-Pacific Corp. buys the Old Town mill from the former Fort James Corp., begins producing pulp and tissue products.

Georgia-Pacific employees wait for a train to pass as they make their way into the Old Town plant during shift change in 2005. Credit: John Clarke Russ | BDN

December 2005

Koch Industries Inc., purchases Georgia-Pacific for $21 billion.


Deanna and Alan Chesson were among the 400 workers laid off from Georgia Pacific plant in Old Town in 2006. Credit: John Clarke Russ | BDN

March 2006

G-P permanently closes, laying off about 400 workers. The company claims that “the mill’s tissue and pulp manufacturing assets are no longer required to service our customer base.” The facility’s tissue machinery is dismantled and removed.

An exterior view of the Red Shield facility in Old Town in 2007. Credit: John Clarke Russ | BDN

September 2006

A company formed by a group of private investors called Red Shield Environmental purchases the mill for $1. The sale came with provision that there would be no tissue production for at least five years. Red Shield revives the mill’s pulp production.

An exterior view of a dormant Red Shield Environmental LLC in Old Town is pictured 2008. Credit: John Clarke Russ | BDN

June 2008

Red Shield files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Mill production is temporarily idled and at least 160 employees are put out of work.

Dan Bird with Old Town Fuel and Fiber discusses the company’s process of producing pulp and biofuel in 2009. Credit: Bridget Brown | BDN

October 2008

A federal bankruptcy judge approves the sale of the mill to Patriarch Partners, a New York investment firm, for nearly $19 million. The firm renames the site Old Town Fuel & Fiber.

Employees at Old Town Fuel and Fiber were furloughed in 2014 due to foreign trade and high fuel costs. Credit: Gabor Degre | BDN

August 2014

Old Town Fuel & Fiber abruptly closes and furloughs 180 workers indefinitely. The company cited foreign competition and rising wood and energy costs for the shutdown.

The Old Town Fuel & Fiber mill in 2014. Credit: Gabor Degre | BDN

October 2014

Creditors petitioned the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Bangor to force the shuttered mill into Chapter 7 bankruptcy, claiming it had accrued at least $1 million in unpaid debts.

December 2014

Promising to restart pulp production, Wisconsin-based company Expera Specialty Solutions buys the idled mill after a bankruptcy judge OKs the $10.5 million sale.

The Old Town Fuel & Fiber mill is pictured in 2014. Credit: Gabor Degre | BDN

September 2015

Expera announces plans to close the mill it had purchased less than a year prior. The company claimed the shutdown was caused by high wood costs, declining value of the Canadian dollar and a significant increase in the market’s capacity for pulp production. The closure affected approximately 195 millworkers.

ND Paper mill in Old Town is pictured in November 2020. Credit: Linda Coan O’Kresik | BDN

October 2018

The mill bounced between a couple more temporary owners before it was finally taken over by a subsidiary of Nine Dragons Paper, a Chinese firm.


The Nine Dragons Paper Mill in Old Town. Credit: Nina Mahaleris | BDN

August 2019

After hiring 130 workers, ND Paper officially opens and revives pulp production.

Firefighters battle a blaze in a block of buildings in the heart of downtown Old Town in 2019. Credit: Courtesy of the City of Old Town

September 2019

A massive fire guts downtown again — this time on the opposite side of Main Street. Flames rip through several businesses such as Simple Things & Sweets and The Cutting Edge. The fire also displaces 11 people who live in upstairs apartments.

Thornton Construction crews tear down three buildings on Main Street in November 2019. Credit: Linda Coan O’Kresik | BDN

November 2019

Three buildings that had been damaged beyond repair are demolished, leaving a gaping hole in the middle of downtown.