The Shasta Mill's Early Years

The Best in the West!

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We are currently putting together a detailed history of the beginning of the Shasta Mill operations during the Kimberly-Clark years and continuing on into the early Simpson Lee period. There were individuals who worked on the construction of the mill itself in the early 1960s, whom also stuck around to go to work inside the mill operation once they had finished building it.

The above right vintage illustration was a period advertisement from Beloit Iron Works- depicting America's demand for paper. Today, our country's demand for paper is being filled in part, with more low labor cost paper being manufactured and imported from Asia. To the lower right are a couple examples of early employee badges which were worn by the Shasta Mill employees when K-C originally owned the operation.

When the Shasta Mill was first constructed, there was only one paper machine, the No 1 paper machine-left photo.

According to Tim S., the Shasta Mill was constructed at a cost of over 50 million dollars. Tim went on to add that K-C received millions of dollars in 'movement' grants and other incentives to build this experimental mill. It was the first pulp and paper mill in California which utilized the Sacramento River as a discharge point for its treated mill effluent water.

Did you know that Kimberly-Clark required it's Shasta Mill employees to wear a light fabric/paper billed hat while working inside the mill?

According to Ralph P., all mill production employees wore a white hat and green lettering and all maintenance employees wore a blue hat with white lettering, with the exception of the maintenance safety-first aid employee who wore a white hat. Ralph added that when Simpson Lee purchased the mill from K-C, they sent out a directive to have all of the old K-C hats disposed off immediately! Depicted in the very upper left photo is one of the original K-C hats worn by Shasta Mill maintenance personnel.

The pulp mill operation used sawmill waste chips that the area saw mills were having trouble getting rid off. Just a few years after the Shasta Mill was in operation, all saw mills in California had to stop burning wood waste in tee-pee burners due to newly implemented environmental regulations from the federal Clean Air Act. The result became a windfall for pulp and paper mills such as Shasta due to the various saw mills in the region needing a source to dispose of their mill wood waste.

The left photo depicts a once common site around Shasta County and other area lumber mill communities- the red hot glow of a tee-pee burner at night. In the right photo, looking south down the railroad tracks, on the right side, the very crown of a tee-pee burner is recognizable in the far background over at the former Anderson Paul Bunyon Saw Mill. The former Anderson Kimberly-Clark Lumber mill is on the left side of the railroad tracks. Note the stacks of sawed finished lumber. The Shasta pulp and paper mill is just further south from this location.

Many can recall waking up on cool dew covered mornings in Anderson prior to around 1972 and seeing those small black flecks or soot on top of the moisture on the car's paint finish.

And if you had a clothes line in the backyard and hung up damp clothing from time to time, chances are that you would have found blackened specks on the garments when dry. You knew that you were in a mill town by the smell of wood burning from the area's many tee-pee burners.

How about the glow from those tee-pee burners at lumber mills dotted along old Highway 99 between Anderson and Redding? It was reported that when Shasta County implemented the local air quality control standards as a result of the federal Clean Air Act around 1971, that the local area had approximately twenty tee-pee burners operating at the time. Don't forget that Cottonwood and CV had tee-pee burners at their moulding mill operations, too!

Do you remember the shift change whistle blowing at midnight down at the K-C lumber mill just south of Anderson? Left photo depicts another view, towards the west, of the former Kimberly-Clark Anderson saw mill with it's several massive log decks up to the edge of Deschutes Road. The city of Anderson is in the background. A complex rain bird style sprinkler system located along the decks kept these 'green' logs moist year around. During frosty cold wintry mornings, ice would occasionally form along the top of these decks with icicles hanging off of the sprinklers. Thanks Mike T. for use of the photo.

In the pulp mill, the first pulping digester was an IMPco unit which fed wood chips from the bottom. According to Ralph P., the design of this digester made many a millwright 'rich'. The 'screw ejector' broke down often which required much maintenance.

Ralph noted that it had to of taken a lot of horsepower in order just to push those wood chips up to the very top of the digester. Later this unit would be replaced by a Kamyr digester.

Retired millwright George G. noted that maintenance would be called in often to work on the 'chip lifter' unit feeding the IMPco. digester. This would require the use of large pipe wrenches to fix it. As maintenance worked inside this unit to get the lifter operational, George went on to explain that the millwrights would then get drenched in hot black liquor. You would then spend the rest of the day smelling like black liquor.

According to Tim S., the original IMPco digester was rated for 150 tons of pulp fiber produced. The Kamyr digester unit which replaced it was rated for 190 tons. The first boiler unit was also difficult to operate and would be later replaced as well.

Left photo depicts a crane lowering a section of the new Shasta Kamyr digester into place out in the pulp mill just shortly before K-C sold the mill to Simpson Lee. The new 2 million dollar Kamyr digester unit began operation in October of 1971, just three months before Simpson Lee took over in January 1972.

Tim S. recalls the old K-C days during which the wood chips would first come into the pulp mill by rail chip car. Tim noted that the first railcars which SP assigned to and supplied the mill with were really beat up bad. Tim added that K-C got nothing but complaints from the neighbors living nearby the mill, about all the noise and vibration when the pulp crews would unload these chip car hoppers.

Soon K-C purchased huge 'vibrating fingers' which the operator would then lower into the chip car. This would shake the chips out thru the bottom of the cars. Tim went on to add that this was a 'bust', and that these 'vibrating fingers' sat out along side the chip yard for a couple of years before Maintenance finally went out one day and cut them up. The remains of which were then hauled back to the mill's scrap pile, better known as the 'bone yard'!

The chip unloaders then went back to the manual unloading of the car, by physically using pitch forks and using the electric car shaker which the chip unloaders would bolt to the side of the chip hopper, after they had opened the belly dump doors towards the bottom of each rail car. Lower left photo depicts the mill 'bone yard' to the right of the maintenance parts warehouse.

Tim also remembered the times when the chips would be packed so tight in the railcars, due to traveling the great distance down the Sacramento River canyon from the International Paper (IP) Mill up in Weed, Ca. When the railcars would finally arrive down at Shasta, only a small hand bucket full of chips would then fall out when the dump doors were opened!

In the winter time, these same loads of wood chips originating from the mill up at Weed, would now have snow mixed in with the wood chips. The whole carload would then freeze up before getting down to the Shasta Mill. And once there, the result was that it was almost impossible to get any chips at all to dump from these frozen railcars!

Tim finished by saying that in those years, there was lots of overtime in the old chip yard when unloading by chip railcar. Later, the company discontinued wood chip delivery by rail, using chip trucks instead.

Lefthand photograph: A Kimberly-Clark Shasta Division Safety Award pin for performing 5 years of safe service without a lost time accident.

Larry M. recalls how when K-C started the mill, the plan was for the Shasta Mill to manufacture a grade of magazine paper for a publishing company which was suppose to move out west to set up a printing press for the west coast market. Larry mentioned that the No. 1 machine initially manufactured a K-C paper grade known as Kimfect.

Kimfect used ground wood in its manufacture. The pulp mill had a ground wood plant to support this process. In the meantime, the magazine publisher did not relocate. The mill had quality issues with the introduction of ground wood into the paper formula. Eventually, the ground wood plant would be completely shutdown. The Shasta No. 1 machine also originally produced a K-C paper grade called Lithofect, which was an expensive line of paper.

It has also been mentioned that the Shasta No. 1 paper machine originally produced a grade of paper for the popular periodical, TV Guide.

As noted on the second heading towards the top of this page, K-C 'coined' the Shasta operation as The Best in the West! Using this slogan in advertising, the mill was the first coated paper manufacturing operation in California serving a triangle printing market comprised of Salt Lake City, Utah to the east- Portland, Oregon to the north and the San Francisco bay area / Los Angeles markets to the south.

When the workers began producing paper on No. 1 for K-C, there was no enclosed control room for the machine tender. Larry M. went on to say that both the stockman and machine tender had a wooden bench that they used.

They also had one of those blue metal cabinet desk stands with several drawers which they stored their various items in. It was several years before the Company would construct an air conditioned control room for the machine tender. At that time, various controls were then relocated into that small building near the 'wet end'.

Shasta papermaker retiree Otis M. mentioned that paper wasn't first produced on No. 1 until right after Christmas of 1964. 'Otie' noted that the papermakers had been in training sessions with K-C trainers at the mill up until this time, learning how K-C management wanted the paper manufactured on Shasta No 1. 'Otie' felt that paper thus actually didn't begin production off the machine until sometime in early January of 1965.

According to Jack M., there were a lot of problems with manufacturing a good sheet of paper off the No 1 machine back during those early years.

Jack went on to add, that off quality paper was sent down into the basement at a spot just after the dryer section on No 1 and before the roll coater. Men would pull the full width sheet, which was still extremely hot from just coming out of the dryers, on down the tractor hallway, all the way west toward paper finishing. They would then continue back the other direction toward the maintenance shop, which was a great distance down to the east end of the main building.

If the sheet quality had not improved by then, the employees would then continue to pull and drag more paper out, all the way back down to finishing again. Jack noted that it was not uncommon for this practice to continue back and forth up and down the tractor hall, until many multiple layers of paper had stacked up, from one end of the basement hallway, all the way down to the other end. At times, this giant wad of paper could become a mound five to six feet in height.

Try to imagine that amount of paper stacked up all the way down a hallway, probably almost an 1/8 of a mile long.

Jack went on to explain that K-C policy in those days prohibited its employees from using a forklift in order to pick up this broke paper and put it back into the repulper. Employees essentially would have to pull manually by hand, all of the salvageable paper which had been stacked up in long wide layers, thus physically dragging it all the way back down to the repulper .

Retiree Dick J. noted that at one point, maintenance actually cut a large hole in the No.1 basement concrete wall in order to drag off poor quality paper coming off the machine and send it outside.

The above series of three photos depicts a blue and gold ball point pen once given out by K-C which noted the Anderson, California pulp and paper operations of the late 1960s.

Next photo depicts a Shasta Mill hourly employee paystub from the pay period toward the end of the 1969 year. Note the wages earned during the late 1960s at $2.94 an hour. Mr. Bunch mentioned that even at that rate of pay, there was still money left over for some fun after the bills got paid.

There will be more history added in the near future about the early Simpson Lee years, including photos depicting the mill's expansion, such as the construction of the No. 2 paper machine building and the recovery boiler project.

Now read all about when the Shasta Mill first started up with issue No.2 of the original Shasta Mill employee newsletter-The K-C Shasta Mill Newsletter issue Vol. 1, No. 2- October 1964 (PDF)

the shasta mill(PDF)

Take a mill tour down memory lane when the K-C pulp and paper operations first started up in Anderson, CA during those fall months of 1964! Just click on the newsletter graphic to the above left.

Just how many of the original 1964 Shasta Mill employees' names do you recognize while reading this early issue of The Shasta Mill?


Along with The Shasta Mill newsletter, K-C also published a newspaper for the lumber mill employees called Timber Echoes (PDF)

timber echoes(PDF)

Next door to the newly constructed Anderson K-C pulp and paper facility, was the former Ralph L. Smith lumber mill which was also being operated by Kimberly-Clark as well. Many of the saw mill employees would transfer over to the newly constructed Shasta Mill pulp and paper operation. Here is a copy of the October 1964 Vol 14, No.10 issue Timber Echoes, K-C's Shasta operations lumber mill employee newsletter. Just click on the Timber Echoes newsletter graphic to the above left.

Just how many of the original 1964 K-C sawmill employees' names do you recognize who would eventually come over to the pulp and paper mill side?

A good read for all you mill workers and management types!

The photos to the lower left and right depict the first load of paper being sent out of the Shasta Mill via railcar. Can you recognize anyone in those two photos? The late Clancy Coates is on the very rear of the railcar in the left photo. He is holding onto the ladder. His wife Kay is in the right photo. Click on the following links to the enlarged photos and see if you can help us fill in more of the names of those who are in these two photos.
First Load Coated Paper Men
Click here to view an enlarged photo of the group of men in the following photograph
First Load Coated Paper Women
Click here to view an enlarged photo of the group of women in the following photograph