In December of 2015 NPI USA will celebrate our 95th Anniversary of operation at the Port Angeles Site.

On December 14th of 2010, the NPI USA Port Angeles Mill celebrated our 90th Anniversary of making paper in Port Angeles. For 90 years, the mill has been a significant part of the history and prosperity of the City of Port Angeles. We have supplied paper for millions of daily newspapers and telephone books with our efforts and paper going to virtually all corners of the world. During our 90 years we have had thousands of employees walk through our doors, each with their own stories to tell.

Risky Beginnings

Our story starts with just three men and failure. George and James Whalen were lumbermen from Canada. Together, they ran several lumber mills and three paper mills in British Columbia which were collectively known as the Whalen Pulp and Paper Company.

As the world emerged from World War I, the Whalens were doing well and decided to build a new paper mill in Port Angeles. Their project needed financing which was provided through an investment banker firm from Chicago known as Peabody-Houghteling. Edward Mills was an accountant in the employment of Peabody.

The Whalens purchased land in Port Angeles for their new venture, “The Olympic Power and Paper Company,” in addition to a new machine from Bagley and Sewell Machinery for the then princely sum of $123,000. The paper machine was designed with a finished width of 154 inches and could run at the unheard of speed of 1,000 feet per minute.

Like many business, however, the Walens’ failed with the advent of the Great Depression, leaving a manufactured, but un-assembled state-of-the-art paper machine in its wake.

Salvaging and starting over

Mills, as an employee of Peabody-Houghteling, was sent to Port Angeles with the task of salvaging Peabody’s investment. Before he could do so, however, Peabody also collapsed.

Mills packaged up the existing equipment and offered it to Isidore Zellerbach, owner of a paper merchant and distribution business who was looking for a new source of supply.

In this case, timing coupled with opportunity was everything.

The Zellerbachs became the new owners of the assets of Olympic Power and Paper Company. The company was renamed “The Washington Pulp and Paper Company” and in late 1919, engineering and design was started for building a paper mill at the Port Angeles site using the equipment previously purchased. By December of 1920, following an aggressive timeline, the buildings were built and the No. 1 paper machine was installed.

On December 14th of 1920, the paper machine produced the very first saleable product. The production was very modest on the first day with only 6,000 pounds of production, but the mill was making paper.

On December 28th, paper was first shipped from the mill when 408 rolls were loaded on a Pacific Steamship coastal steamer for delivery to San Francisco. Expansion quickly followed the successful startup with the addition and start up of No. 2 Paper Machine in 1922 and No. 3 Paper Machine in 1927.

Making materials sustainable and available

When the mill was originally started, the paper was made using groundwood pulp made on site and purchased sulphate pulp. Over the following years a wood yard, sawmill, sulfite pulp mill and new warehouse were constructed making the mill self-reliant for fiber, pulp and power.

During the next few decades, investment continued with a boiler, waste water treatment plant, refiner mill and recycle fiber pulp mill being constructed. The paper machines have also been continually improved over the last 90 years with a constant stream of upgrades and modifications as the industry and grade mix changed.

Today, the paper machine produces over 325 tons per day at speeds in excess of 3,000 feet per minute.

Over the years The Washington Pulp and Paper Company became known as Crown Zellerbach which remained headquartered in San Francisco. The Zellerbach name lasted for several decades until CZ became part of James River in the 1980’s. James River, in turn, sold the mill to Daishowa in 1988. Daishowa and Nippon Paper Group merged in 2003.

Today we celebrate more than 90 years of continuous paper making. We remain proud of what we do as well as our association with the City and citizens of Port Angeles and Clallam County.