In 1903, Madison was described as one of the state's leading towns in amount and importance of our manufactured goods.
Many mills sprang up along the Kennebec River including the 1881 Madison Woolen Mill, the 1887 Indian Spring Woolen Company and Somerset Woolen in East Madison. These mills have long since closed their doors.
In 1899, just after installing a paper machine, the Manufacturing Investment Company went out of business, and was later taken over by Great Northern Paper Company. It was there, that the company rolled out its first paper. In the 1960's Great Northern moved its operations to Millenocket, but paper making in Madison continued with Kennebec Paper through the 1970's and ultimately Madison Paper from 1980 to 2016.
With the decline for super-calendar paper the mill closed in May of 2016. Currently plans are being developed to repurpose the site for a waste to energy facility.
American Woolen Mill was famous for making cloth for women's coats. At one time, this mill employed 1,500 people, busy with three shifts a day just prior to World War II. They got contracts from the Navy and they made Navy Blue Indigo cloth for uniforms. Business was booming until the War was over, then everything was moving south.
It was a sad day for Madison in 1948, when at a Town Meeting, Deering Milliken announced that he was moving his operations south. About 1950, the mill was sold at public auction to Melvin Lane who converted it into a plastics manufacturing plant. It was short lived.
As with most industries of this sort, the once-great mills changed hands and even identities many times and eventually closed or moved their operations.
While many manufacturing jobs are going overseas, a brand-new company --Ultra Fine Line, relocated their business to Madison in 2006. The company, owned by Byron Crowe, is busy filling orders for its plastic string that is wound onto reels and shrink-wrapped. Located in the old Ferris Supply Co. building on Pearl Street, the thin twine is availabe in yellow, orange or pink. Ultra Fine Line is one of a small percentage of new businesses that make goods instead of delivering services.
These days the production of energy is the primary industry in Madison with one of the State's largest Solar Arrays, two hydro-electric dams and access to natural gas.