Paper mills use large volumes of water. The water is used both in the manufacturing process as well as for mechanical power. It is not surprising that paper mills are most often located next to a dam to take advantage of the power of falling water. That was a major consideration when the Potlatch Corporation originally built this paper mill in Cloquet at the turn of the 20th Century.
Depending on a river for running a large plant has its downsides. First, significant horsepower goes unused during periods of high water. Second, the mill can be forced to scale back or shut down during low water periods and if there is a drought.
Paper mills locate on rivers for two reasons. First, water power can be used to run heavy machinery. Second, the papermaking process uses a lot of water. Ironically, neither of these factors are in play at the Sappi Mill. The Sappi Mill produces its electricity from biomass, and it pipes in water from Lake Superior.
The Cloquet Dam has no public access from land. Sappi Paper Mill is located on the south side of the river as seen in the photo above.