By the end of 1900 Maine had become one of the leading paper producers in the United States. After leading manufacturers had exhausted their supply of pulped fiber, they looked for wood as a material from which to make paper and decided that spruce would be the best because of its fibrous qualities. As a result, in Maine where timber is abundant there was tremendous industrial expansion as processing operations relocated timber companies to be near sources of trees in Maine, sources that included small towns and even regions of wilderness near the Penobscot (the longest river in Maine) and upper Androscoggin river basins.
As these paper-producing industries gained control of timberlands and expanded the development of rivers and labor supplies in these rural areas and towns, the might of the new monopoly and its capital exerted itself by creating "magic cities" such Rumford, Millinocket, Berlin Mills on the upper Androscoggin, Sprague's Falls on the St. Croix River, and Westbrook, which is near Portland.
From these small industrial centers paper producers extended their influence out over the rivers, forests, and labor systems beyond the mills, epitomizing Joshua Chamberlain's admonition to harness Maine's vast natural resources to modern science, big capital, and outside entrepreneurial energy.
This rapid and artificial growth of mill towns brought cultural changes to Maine as people from other states and locations moved into the areas. What historian Robert Wiebe called "clusters of likemindedness" – mutually agreed-upon ideas about family dynamics, religious habits, personal habits and practices, and even colloquialisms in the citizens of Maine--were now challenged by the migrating workers, many of whom differed in ethnicity and religion from Maine citizens. Fear of losing their "cultural moorings" brought about efforts on the part of Maine citizens to fight such cultural threats and retain the Protestant work ethic, the Bible, and Americanism.