The Forest Mills Company was a good customer of the railroad; taking receipt of coal and exporting “any or all products of wool or cotton or both in the town of Bridgton,” according to the 1768-1968 Bridgton history book.

As the facility grew, additional energy was needed to supplement that which was coming from the Eighth and Ninth power sites, on which the Mills were situated. A siding and coal trestle were stated to have been built to deliver the fuel around 1900 (Jones, 55) to “facilitate the unloading of coal and other factory supplies.”

Forest Mills Siding & Trestle (National Archives)

Forest Mills Siding & Trestle (National Archives at College Park, MD)

Jones mentions (pg 67) 1,200 tons of coal were delivered to the Company in 1905. As the Company shed the wood working leases at the very end of the 1800’s, it is possible, likely, that all of this coal was destined for the woolen mills located at the corners of Kansas, Mill (also Kansas, current day) and Oak streets.

The railroad used half as much coal as the Mill did within the 1905 year to power five locomotives, running six days a week. I am not sure if the Mill ran six or seven days a week, but they did run eleven hours a day, according to the 1880 insurance map documents in the American Textile History Museum’s collection.

So how much is 1,200 tons? Assuming Bituminous coal has an average bulk density of 50 lb/cu ft (it runs from 42 to 57 lb/cu ft), it was 48,000 cubic feet (1,778 cu yd), or the equivalent of 127 modern day triaxle dump trucks (@ 14 cu yd/full capacity) making a visit throughout the year.

14 cu yd Triaxle Dump Truck

14 cu yd Triaxle Dump Truck

So one of those problems I have been struggling with has been the distance from the Mills which the sidings were built. Taking a moment to reference Google Maps and plot out a path to Mill #2, which had the boilers, was approximately 2,000 feet from the coal trestle. There has been much stated about shoveling coal from a standard gauge car to two or three narrow gauge “gondolas” right beside it, but who wants to drag that much coal 0.4 miles from the trestle to the Mill?

Approximate locations of Forest Mill #2 and trestle, siding (Google Maps)

Approximate locations of Forest Mill #2 and trestle, siding (Google Maps)

Well, the answer may have materialized during my searches yesterday. I was searching for a copy of the original Harrison extension map referenced by Bill Jensen in his “Harrison Interlude” article (Short & Narrow Rails #15) within the Maine Registry of Deeds and, not only did I come away with a digital copy of that map, I also located a Forest Mills map.

Likely generated when the Forest Mills facilities were shuttered and put up for sale in 1911, per the 1768-1968 Bridgton history, the deed map of that year shows a rail line extending from just westward of the trestle and siding to Mill #2 along the ~100 ft wide sliver of property Forest Mills retained when it sold the areas around the complex for residential and other business.

Forest Mills 1912 Deed (higher resolution map available from ME Registry of Deeds)

Forest Mills 1912 Deed (higher resolution map available from ME Registry of Deeds)

I am on the hunt for some corroboration. The Sanborn insurance maps from 1907 and 1914 do not show this spur, but the insurance maps are known to be incorrect in some details. The 1916 valuation map shows the siding and trestle, and the Forest Mills property intersecting the ROW, so the spur may have been removed prior to 1916, possibly shortly after the deed was created as the railroad no longer had a reason to maintain the switch and spur.

It also may not have been included on the valuation map because it is entirely on Forest Mills property, with the exception of the switch, of course, but this is unlikely. USGS topographical maps covering the Harrison extension area, the Norway 15 minute quadrangle, are only available for 1896 and 1949, missing the period I’m after (he Quads do show the railroad on other maps, so if you are curious, the collection is available for review here).

The Forest Mills facilities were acquired by and served the American Woolen Company around 1918 per the June 1919  copy of “United States Investor” and produced cassimere (old spelling of cashmere), which is mentioned in their 1921 publication, possibly a company annual report of sorts. They may not have needed the energy coal supplied and could get by with just water power in producing the lighter weight material, also a reason to have pulled up the tracks, if they still existed, or not have them relaid.

I don’t have all of the answers, but this map gives me more sound information on moving that much coal to the Mill, and this is prompting me to change my track plan. I like the notion of another company-specific spur on the narrow gauge. The Hall & Hamblin grist mill, later Ingalls & Morrison feed mill, in the Bridgton yard had its own spur to provide coal service, so why not the woolen mills?

Now how did Pondicherry get their 2,200 tons of coal…

Have a good new year, everyone.