The truck gate at Pixelle Androscoggin Mill in Jay is padlocked Thursday, a day after the mill’s last day of operations. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

JAY — An era came to an end Wednesday when the last paper mill in Jay ceased making paper.

From the time construction began on its first paper mill in 1892, turning a tiny village into an economic force, Jay has leaned on the industry for the livelihood of many of its residents.

But the only remaining mill in town, shattered by a devastating explosion three years ago, has closed down, as expected.

Alan Ulman, a spokesperson for owner Pixelle Specialty Solutions, said Thursday that paper production has ceased at the plant.

He said ”shut down activities” are still needed. “I don’t know exactly how long they will take.”

The Pixelle Androscoggin Mill, which employed 1,500 people in its heyday, makes up a fifth of Jay’s tax base and employed 230 people as recently as last fall.


Officials have been scrambling to figure out what comes next for Jay. They’re eyeing potential grants and economic development options.

The truck gate at Pixelle Androscoggin Mill in Jay is padlocked Thursday, a day after the mill’s last day of operations. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

For now, though, they’re wondering how much the closure is going to hurt.

The Lewiston Saturday Journal in 1897 noted that before construction of the Otis Falls Pulp Co. in 1888, Jay had been “a mere way station.”

The mill, it said, turned the place into a bustling town.

Over the years, Jay’s fortunes rose and fell with the paper industry, soaring when the mills ran full tilt and suffering when the paper business waned.

Now, though, for the first time in more than 130 years, Jay faces a future that may never again include the paper mills that defined it for generations.


Employees were told last month the mill’s doors, which opened in 1965 as an International Paper production plant, would close by March 9. It has employed about 230 people in recent months, a major reduction since its peak.

The silo-shaped pulp digester is destroyed in April 2020 in an explosion at Pixelle’s Androscoggin Mill in Jay. The explosion shook the ground and produced a plume of black smoke that was visible for miles around. Sun Journal file photo

Pixelle bought the Androscoggin Mill and associated properties from Verso Corp. shortly before the pandemic hit early in 2020 as part of a $400 million deal that added the Jay mill to Pixelle’s specialty paper operations in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin that produced more than a million tons of paper annually.

But things turned bleak for the Jay mill in April 2020 when a digester blew up in a spectacular explosion that wrecked key parts of the plant but did not kill or injure any workers.

The mill never recovered.

With the mill shuttered, the question will be whether Jay can find new ways to flourish.

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