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Paper Pusher: 1941

Paper Pusher: 1941

September 1941. Sheldon Springs, Vermont. "Feeding machine that grinds wood into pulp, one of the last stages in making paper at the Mississquoi Corporation mill." Medium-format nitrate negative by Jack Delano. View full size.


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Worst job at the mills

I worked summers at a mill in Maine and this was the worst job there was. Using pulp hooks and dragging logs into the hopper. Hot and backbreaking, and forget it if you fell behind the grinder or got a log in the wrong way causing a jam. As far as I know, it is still done this way.

Inside Story

I work at this mill. This was actually toward the start of the process. We don't have this part of the mill any more, we are completely recycled content now. However, the mill started as a stone groundwood mill. Balsam & spruce logs were brought in, debarked, and cut into 2 foot lengths. These were fed into pocket grinders seen in the photo. Rotating grind stones turned the logs into pulp. At the time of the picture these machines were powered solely by hydropower. It was the nicest smelling pulping process there ever was. This fiber was made into ticket stock, closure board, and matte board on cylinder board paper machines.


Pictures like this must make Safety Inspectors cringe. Heck, even I cringe.

Steampunk Nightmare

Looks like he's been miniaturized. And, yeah, having approached Luke, Maryland, I can say that it is an industry with a distinctive smell.

Don't forget the stench

Industrial paper making has to be one of the nastier-smelling industries in the nation. Just drive through Maine if you don't believe it.


Sort of has that "Metropolis" movie feel about it, the shirtless fellow, machinery, steam, dirt, grit and grime.

Working Man Too

Yes definitely a working man. Those were the days when a man wasn't afraid to get down and dirty. Dangerous, yes, but they had to do what was necessary before all our wondrous technology.

Working Man

Except for the fact that he's probably standing on a red hot, steam powered grinder and his lungs are probaby filled with pulp, he looks quite fit. Or maybe it's because he's only 17.

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