At the time, it was considered one of the most modern mills in the country and in those early years there was a constant need for more capital for further improvements.

In 1902, shortly after its first four paper machines began operating, Oxford Paper secured the contract to manufacture all of the postal cards used by the U.S. Post Office, resulting in the manufacturing of 3 million postcards a day, according to company records.

By the time the No. 6 machine was started in 1906, there were 900 employees in the plant. Rumford’s assessed value climbed to around $3 million and its population grew to 6,500.

Just 15 years later, Rumford’s population had grown to 8,675. 

Fifteen years before the mill opened, Rumford’s assessed value was less than $5,000 with a population of only a few hundred.

Hugh J. Chisholm, son of the mill’s founder, was elected president of the Oxford Paper Co. in 1912. According to Leane’s research, very early in Chisholm’s career as president he set plans in motion for further expansion in Rumford.

In 1913, a new company — the Maine Coated Paper Co. — was organized. It was housed in a new brick building covering 137,440 square feet of floor space at the south end of the Oxford Mill.

By the end of the year, the coated paper company was operating six single-coated machines with the plain paper used on the coating machines purchased from Oxford Paper.

A building to house three double coating machines was added in 1916, and with another double coater added in 1920, the 10th machine was in operation. By 1930, there were a dozen coating machines in operation, according to Leane.

The Maine Coated Paper Co. kept a separate identity from Oxford Paper until 1922 when capital stock of Maine Coated was acquired by Oxford Paper, and the coating mill became the Maine Coated Division of Oxford, according to company records.

At the peak of its operation, Maine Coated employed about 550 men and women and production at the Oxford Mill was running around 250 tons a day on 10 paper machines.

During the Depression, the Rumford-Mexico area was hard-hit, but unlike many places, there were never any bread lines. In the worst year, 1932, Oxford Paper was still operating on average at least 3.7 days a week, providing a payroll in the community, according to Leane’s research.

In 1943-44, during World War II, the greater part of the mill’s production went to the armed forces and government agencies. The Oxford research workers developed special papers for use in the war effort, including thousands of tons of special wet strength map paper.

According to Sun Journal archives, in 1967, Oxford Paper Co. of Rumford and Mexico was sold to Ethyl Corp. of Virginia, which produced gas, chemicals and oil. In 1976, the mill was sold to Boise Cascade.

Twenty years later, in 1996, the mill and accompanying woodlands were sold to the Mead Corp. of Dayton, Ohio. And in January 2002, Westvaco merged with the Mead Corp. to form MeadWestvaco.

In 2005, MeadWestvaco’s Printing and Writing Paper business was sold to the investment firm of Cerberus Capital Management for about $2.3 billion to form NewPage Corp.

In October 2014, Catalyst Paper Corp., based in Canada, announced the $74 million purchase agreement for the Rumford mill and NewPage’s mill in Biron, Wis.

Catalyst now runs three paper machines at the mill, producing one- and two-sided paper, including paper used in food and beverage packaging, according to the company. It employs 800 people. 

The 2010 Census count puts the population of Rumford at 5,841.

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