Stunning photos from inside a North Country paper mill
North Country At Work recently made a trip down to Cranberry Lake, to meet with the Town of Clifton’s historian and director of the Clifton Museum, Mark Friden. He graciously shared the museum’s digitized and un-digitized photos of work, and there were more than a few gems. But one series of photos practically flew off the page: professional photographs taken inside the Newton Falls Paper Mill, which was a huge employer during the 20th century for area residents. It opened in 1894, saw its peak in the 1970s, and then went through a series of opens and shutdowns by different corporations until it closed for good in 2011.
These publicity stills taken inside the mill offer up a rare and intimate look at the paper-making industry. The photos were saved by two happy coincidences. The first was during a shut-down in the 1970s when Ernie Bognar, a Newton Falls Paper Mill employee, took these photos home, fearing it was a permanent closure and they would be lost. A few decades later and Ernie had passed away and his house in Newton Falls sold “as is – contents included”. The house was purchased by Randy Clarke, who just happened to me a friend of Mark Friden. While Randy was cleaning out the house, Mark ran into him and was told, “Come and take whatever you want for the Museum – if is still here in three days, it all goes to the dump.” He immediately went to the old Bognar house, and was rewarded when he found the photographs.
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These photos come from the Clifton Museum as part of the Ernie Bognar Collection, furnished through the courtesy of Randy Clark.
Tags: ncatwork, new york state history, newton falls paper mill, North Country At Work
Thank you for sharing these. My grandmother (Cora McBroome) and my uncle (Tom Watson) both worked at the paper mill. Thank you for letting me see where my uncle went every night.
I’m so glad they helped you gain some insight on your relatives, Lisa!