In 1889, Norman Brokaw of Kaukauna and W.I. Edmonds of Appleton came to Marathon County to investigate reports of excellent and unexploited waterpower. Their idea was to establish a paper mill. After examining several locations along the Wisconsin River, they settled on a spot about seven miles north of Wausau. After obtaining the rights to the use of the waterpower there, they started building a mill and dam July 12, 1899. When finished in 1901, the Wausau Paper Company became the largest paper mill in Wisconsin. It was the second mill on the Wisconsin River. With the isolation of the location, it was necessary to build a company town to house the workers for the mill, and soon the community of Brokaw emerged. A classic company town, the paper company provided everything the new community would need. By 1903, the village featured a school, a Methodist Church, company store, clubhouse and company housing. Since the construction of the major bridge over the Wisconsin River, and the connection to Highway 51 in 1967, the population of the village had been declining (although a new subdivision on the west side of the river had nearly doubled the population by 2010). In 2011, Wausau Papers had new owners who decided that the colored specialty paper long produced in Brokaw could be made at another of their plants. The mill was closed in the spring of 2012, ending more than a century of paper production. The loss of the mill, though, devastated the small community financially. Brokaw lost its village status and was incorporated into the newly incorporated Village of Maine. Although the Brokaw paper mill is gone, its loss does not diminish the legacy of a century of papermaking on the Wisconsin River.