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Olai Bache Wiig

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Olai Bache Wiig (3.6.1876 i Trøgstad - 11.11.1924 i Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky, USA) var sønn av brukseier av Sagene tresliperi, Hartvig Bache Wiig (1850 i Trøgstad-) og hustru Christin Amalie (1851 i Aremark-). Gift 22. februar 1912 i Scandanavia, Sheridan, Wausau, Merrill, Wisconsin, med Agnes Ravn (1896 i Wisconsin- 11.2.1917). Barn: Lars R., Ellen Amalie, Robert O., Theodor Olai (1917-2001). Nevø til Carl Bache Wiig.

Olai Bache Wiig ble utdannet i Zwickau. Han arbeidet 2 år i norsk papirindustri (Bestyrer for Bøhnsdalen Træmasse og Cellolosefabrik) før han emigrerte til Amerika i 1903. Han kom til Mount Tom Sulphite Pulp Company, og var rådgivende ingeniør for New York Haven Paper Company i Pennsylvania, og the Lauentide Paper Company of Quebec. Bache Wiig var involvert i en rekke industriprosjekter innen papirproduksjon i USA og Canada.

Han var president i Thomahawk Kraft Paper Company i Wisconsin da han døde etter en fallulykke i 1924.

Kenneth Bjork;

Olai Bache Wiig produced the first sulphate pulp in America and the first kraft paper made from domestic pulp.

While employed in a large pulp organization, 1907-1910, controlled by George Van Dyke, he converted a soda mill at East Angus, Quebec, to the sulphate process. It was in this mill, too, that he pionered in the production of kraft paper.

In 1910, when,in response too urgent requests, he moved to Wisconsin, and promoted the Wasau Sulphate Fibre Company. Wiig, in addition to acting as general manager of this undertaking, was much in demand as a consulting engineer, and he designed and built sulphate mills at Ocean falls, British Columbia and Bogalusa, Louisiana. Hiss last major work was the organization of Thomahauk Kraft Paper Company, which took over and remodeled a mill at Wisconsin Dam.


Olai Bache-wiig was born in Trygstad, Norway, on June 3, 1876. He came from an old paper making family and his grandfather had started one of the earliest ground wood mills in Norway. His father and uncle were also involved in the business and thought Olai would join them. He had other plans. Mr. Bache-wiig was educated in Norway and Germany and after completing his education he served as an engineer in Norway.

In 1903 he came to America and began his career in this country by taking a draftsman job for the Metropolitan Street Car Company in New York City. and was employed by Morey & Co., Boston, Massachusetts as salesman and engineer. In 1907, he contracted with the Brompton Pulp and Paper Company of East Angus, Quebec, to rebuild their soda pulp mill into a mill man¬ufacturing pulp by the sulphate pro¬cess. This mill was put into opera¬tion by Mr. Bache-wiig in August, 1907, and was the first sulphate pulp mill on the American continent. Wausau men learned of this and in 1909 Karl Mathie contacted Mr. Bache-Wiig. They wanted him to design, construct and put into operation a pulp and paper mill.

Mr. Bache-wiig arrived in Wausau for the first meeting with a small group of wealthy lumbermen on December 10, 1909. The young engineer agreed to come to this area to develop the mill. His first task was to choose a spot for the mill on the Wisconsin River. His first choice was a site at Trappe Rapids, near Brokaw. Geologists tested the land strata and discovered the river bottom did not have a bedrock base that could hold a dam. The present site of the Mosinee Paper Mills is the one that was agreed upon. The company became known as the Wausau Sulphate Fibre Company. It was the first mill built for the purpose of manufacturing sulphate pulp and kraft paper (a coarse paper used for wrapping). Of special interest to Mr. Bache-wiig was the science of productivity. The Mosinee mill became the first mill to reach the speed of 1,000 feet a minute. He was able to fine-tune the machinery because of his mechanical acumen. At both mills he made young farmers into expert paper makers.

In his travels up and down the Wisconsin River, looking for a mill site, Mr. Bache-wiig met a fellow Norwegian by the name of Trygve Tillisch. They became friends and Mr. Tillisch invited the young man to dinner at his home in Merrill. He also invited his niece, Agnes Ravn, a school teacher in Merrill. Miss Ravn had graduated from the University of Wisconsin in mathematics and was 23 years old; Mr. Bache-wiig was 36 years old. In spite of their age difference, they were married in 1912 and they had four children. Sadly, the marriage would end after only 12 years.

In 1923, Mr. Bache-wiig formed the Tomahawk Kraft Paper com¬pany to take over the properties of the Pride Pulp and Paper company consisting of a paper mill located at Wisconsin Dam, about two miles south of Tomahawk. He had de¬veloped one of the water powers, Grandmother Falls, and built an up-to-date sulphate mill adjacent to the Pride paper mill.

He was a member of the American Society of Technical Engineers and the Technical Asso¬ciation of the American Pulp & Paper association. Mr. Bache-Wiig was a member of St. James' Episcopal church of Mosi-nee, being a member of the vestry. Olai Bache-Wiig died in a Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky hospital from injuries incurred from falling off a horse in French Lick Springs, Indiana on November 11, 1924. He is buried in Pine Grove Cemetery in Wausau, WI.


  • Kenneth Bjork. Saga in Steel and Concrete. Norwegian Engineers in America, page 328
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