EAST MILLINOCKET, Maine — East Millinocket is known as “the town that paper made.” It was born with the mill, lived for generations because of it and then withered as the plant slowly downsized and, in 2010, choked to a halt.
It was an agonizing decline. The population shrank by more than a third over the course of a decade, and many of those who stayed went elsewhere to work; the headlights on the road to Bangor, 65 minutes south, begin streaming at 3:30 in the morning. Many didn’t find work at all. And with a mill-sized hole in its tax base, the town couldn’t fund or fix its schools. Everything was tied to the mill, and mills that make paper for reading do not reopen in America. But then this one did.