Editor’s Note: This is the second of a series of articles about Papermaker history — telling part of the story about the Camas Mill. The first article looked at the mill’s history from its inception until the 1920s.
Camas, WA — The Camas Mill has undergone many name changes, renovations, additions, and has a Papermaker history filled with fascinating stories dating back to the 1880s.
Longtime mill employees Anna Fry and Caroline Mercury (who recently retired after 36 years) spent considerable time gathering the history (artifacts, logs, books, photos, tools, etc.) and have created a Mill Interpretive Center, or museum, that gives visitors a comprehensive look at what turned Camas into a town, and why we’re called the Papermakers.
The Interpretive Center is open on First Fridays, near the mill’s main entrance on Adams Street (with the black canopy) and provides visitors with an excellent 10-minute movie that provides a light overview of the mill’s history, the people who built it — and those who continue to work there today.
Key Historical Points:
- 1920 — The wood mill installed the first drum barker and the first Jensen towers in the sulfite mill.
- 1924 — The first sulfite mill bleach plant was installed.
- 1925 — A new dock was built.
- 1926 — The first Kraft mill at Camas started up.
- 1928 — Crown Willamette merged with Zellerbach Paper to become Crown Zellerbach.
- 1930 — Newsprint manufacture ceased and was replaced with specialty papers. The converting plant started up and began producing “Zee” bathroom tissue.
- 1941 — The mill machine shops were converted to shipyard parts manufacture for the war effort.
- 1946-48 — A Kraft mill bleach plant was added and production capacity increased to 750 tons per day. Five digesters, two paper machines (14 and 15), and a new wood mill were installed.
- 1950 — Facial fold napkins were produced for the first time.
- 1955-57 — A major expansion included a 300-ton capacity Kraft bleach plant, a 350-tons per day recovery furnace, a new lime kiln, and eight stationary digesters. The Central Research Division was formed.