The artist Nat White portrays young Zenas Crane as he tests the waters of the upper Housatonic River in Dalton in 1799. The Housatonic provided clean water to wash rags and to make paper and provided the horsepower to drive machinery in Crane's original 1801 mill.
The first commercially viable paper from wood pulp was made at this Columbia Mill in Lee, in 1867. 100 years later, this Columbia Mill would have the record for the thinnest paper made.
The way the river fell and the quality of the water made the Housatonic River an ideal site for paper making.
A parade features employees from the Mountain Mill in Lee.
A carton of paper for United States currency gets boxed up for its trip to Washington D.C. from Crane's Government Mill in this photo from the late 1800s. Crane still makes U.S. currency paper, and that of many foreign currencies as well.
Papermaking at Lime Rock
Eaton Crane and Pike newpaper ad
Girls wanted! see original newspaper page >
The Pittsfield Sun; Date: 10-22-1868
Onyx Specialty Papers
In 2009, Pat Begrowicz and Chris Mathews bought this Willow Mill from their employer, Mead Westvaco, thus carrying paper making heritage into the future in Lee. In 2008, Schweitzer Mauduit closed four local paper mills, and Mead Westvaco closed one, leaving this Willow Mill, the only operating paper mill in town. The two employees also bought the closed Laurel Mill from Mead Westvaco.