French Paper Company postcard
Harnessing the power of the St. Joseph River led to Niles’ industrial development. Local citizens formed the Niles Manufacturing Company and in 1871, work was completed on the first permanent dam here, just south of the bustling downtown. Several mills and industries developed along the east and west banks of the river.
In 1871, J.W. French and J.B. Millard organized the Michigan Wood Pulp Company and purchased land on the west side of the river near the new dam, gaining water power rights for their enterprise. In 1905, the company became the French Paper Company. The French Paper Company joined Finch Paper Holdings in Glen Falls, NY in 2019. A modern-day landmark, French + Finch is the only factory still operating along the St. Joseph River in Niles. The company continues to use hydropower produced from its dam.
The Michigan Wood Pulp Company, shown here in this postcard, later became French Paper Company.
Postcard of the Niles dam
Industries on the east side of the River: The area of Riverfront Park South was once filled with industries powered by water.