Rumford Falls


(All News Items – Oxford Democrat 1892)



In 1891, a reporter in Gilead had thrown down a “journalistic” gauntlet when he wrote – “Gilead Booms – She will get ahead of Rumford Falls -   A big lumber mill going up and eight miles of railroad will be built.”  


Up and down the Androscoggin River valley, the people knew about what was being planned and reported from Rumford at the falls.  In 1892, at Rumford Falls serious excavation, building construction and railroad track laying gave physical form to what had been months before only newspaper talk.  As the year went on, Gilead’s logging, mill building and railroad expansion began more and more to look like a drop in the bucket compared to work in progress 20 miles east of Bethel.  Two men, Hugh Chisholm, designer and creator of modern Rumford Falls also labeled an entrepreneurial “venturer”, and George Bisbee, president of the Rumford Falls Power Co., were names mentioned often in 1892 news columns.


In 1892, the “new city” being built at Rumford Falls attracted the attention of Bethel mill men and builders as well as the curious populace.


June 14, 1892


Rumford Falls Railroad News:  The conversion of the old Rumford Falls and Buckfield Railroad bonds due in 1896 and Receiver’s Certificates due in 1893 and 1895 for the new first mortgage bonds recently issued by the Portland and Rumford Falls Railway is making rapid progress under the direction of Messrs. Fred E Richards & Co. Over one third are reported to have been exchanged.


June 28, 1892:


Rumford Falls – railroad and road building progress:  The depot is nearly completed. It is a very pretty building 20 by 120 feet with a freight station in one end and the passenger station in the other. It is painted orange with red trimmings and looks very much like some of the Maine Central stations.


Work on foundations for the roundhouse resumed once more after a suspension of a few days.


Mr. Willis who had the contract for the station also has the roundhouse contract. The work on this will be done by the day - materials furnished by the railroad company.


Bids will be received until July 2, 1892 for building the roads according to the plan approved by the county commissioners. Road specifications are available at the Rumford Falls Power Company office and at the residences of Henry Abbott and J.H. Howe.


July 5, 1892


Bethel: James L. Chapman and Charles P. Bartlett plan to erect a mill on Swift River, at Gammon’s Falls for the manufacture of birch. Building the mill will begin soon. Mr. Chapman says he intends to put in 1,200 cords of birch for next year’s sawing. Products of the mill will be shipped out on cars of the Rumford Falls railroad. This is one of the many enterprises which the recent developments at Rumford Falls have made possible.


July 19, 1892



Rumford Falls:  On July 14th, the first brick in the construction of the paper mill was laid. The foundations are nearly done. A.B. Tower, an eminent engineer and architect of Holyoke prepared the plans for this mill. Mr. Hardy S. Ferguson, a graduate of the Thayer School of Civil Engineering, is the resident engineer in charge of the paper company’s plant. The directors of the Rumford Falls Paper Company held a meeting here last week.  President: Daniel Emery; Manager: Garret Schenck and Treasurer: Col. E.H. Haskell.


Ethan Willis will build a round house and an extensive car shed for the railway company. The contract to build the abutments for the highway bridge was let to the Maxwells of Phillips. The Portland and Rumford Falls Railway has decided to extend the line along the south side of the middle canal to Hartford Street where a fine and commodious passenger station will be erected.


Contractors Spofford & Mitchell have already started to grade this line. J.H. Wardwell has received his post office commission and by next week mail should be at the new post office.


August 2, 1892


Rumford Falls: Regular passenger train service over the Rumford Falls extension of the Portland and Rumford Falls Railway began August 1st.  “The early train left the new city at ten-minutes past four and was followed during the day by three other trains each way.” According to the correspondent the new service actually began on July 30th when regular trains passed through to Rumford Falls to be ready for Monday’s schedule.


The regular afternoon passenger (Conductor Moore’s train) was the first to arrive and that reached Rumford Falls a few minutes before six o’clock. This train was made up of a combination mail and baggage car, and two new passenger coaches and made a very pretty appearance as it wound its way up the river bank through the fertile intervale farms of the Androscoggin valley.  At Dixfield Station, opposite the village, the train was met by a large audience accompanied by the Dixfield Brass Band, and given a rousing greeting with band music and cheering.


Contractors Mitchell & Spofford still have much work to do on the line including grading and completing sidings. “Their gravel train is still busily at work putting the finishing touches on to the finest new line of railway in Maine.” 


August 9, 1982



Rumford Falls – The New Railroad:  Business has been brisk over the Portland and Rumford Falls Railway since the opening of the extension to Rumford Falls.  One excursion trip carried a large Sabbath School picnic group of 800 persons to picnic grounds at Lake Anasagunticook. The reporter wrote that the road is equipped in a manner second to none in the state. Two passenger trains run each way daily and on Monday and Saturday a third train is added to the schedule.


Conductor Moore’s train leaves Rumford Falls each morning at 7:45, reaching Dixfield at 8 o’clock, Canton at 8:35, and Buckfield at 9:07, and arrives at Mechanic Falls at 9:40. It makes connection with Grand Trunk trains. The return train leaves Mechanic Falls at 3:10 PM, the Buckfield at 3:50, Canton at 4:22, Dixfield at 4:55 and it arrives in Rumford Falls at 5:05.


Conductor Arthur Allen’s train leaves Mechanic Falls each morning at 10:15, connecting with the early train on the Grand Trunk Railway for Portland, etc.  There is a Saturday train that leaves Mechanic Falls for Rumford at 7:00 PM and arrives at Rumford Falls at 9 o’clock.


The arrangements (of these trains) are first class for the accommodations of the public and the public can take advantage of the excursion rate during August to visit Rumford Falls – the Niagara (Falls) of New England.


August 30:


Rumford Falls: Construction progress: W.F. Putnam has the hotel (Harris) up and the walls about closed in. The building is 75 by 72 feet, three stories high, six stores on the first floor and a hotel on the second and third stories. Completion is expected in December. S.H. Rogers has a crew of masons building chimneys in the hotel.


At the mill, Wm Allen & Sons have three of the large penstocks in place. S.S. Ordway has about fifty men at work on the foundations for the Chemical Association Building.  J.S. Smith & Co. has a crew putting in the masonry for the head gates in front of the Paper Co. works.


Newspaper correspondent’s summary of building progress: It was just two years ago when the Rumford Falls Power Company started work here. Since then a dam has been built across the Androscoggin, head gates and a masonry wall 200 feet long near the dam, a canal excavated 1500 feet.  Work commenced on one of the largest pulp and paper mills in the State; chemical mill for the manufacture of bleaching powders, etc, 15 or 20 dwelling houses and stores erected, numerous streets graded, commencement of another dam at the head of the falls, commencement of lower level canal, railroad built from Canton, fifteen miles, branch tracks and every facility for handling freight from the mills. No boom but steady growth.


September 6, 1892


Rumford Falls:  Fred Howe of Bethel has nearly finished a house for J.E. Stephens.


H.J. Chisholm and George Bisbee, president of the Rumford Falls Power Company were in town last week.


Mitchell & Spofford have started laying the branch track along the south side of the middle level canal.  About 85 men are building the upper dam.  Contractor J.A. Greenleaf of Lewiston was here to check progress on paper mill construction. Work will start soon on the electric light, power station and the water system.


September 13:


Real Estate Transfers:  Bethel, 4 transfers; Greenwood, 1; Rumford: Rumford Falls Power Co., 12 transfers, plus four other individual closings.


Rumford Falls:  A Jefferson N.H., man, Joseph Labreque, is building a three story structure – first story for a store and the other two for tenements. Work has started on the waste-way near the entrance to the Middle Level Canal. The paper mill is slowly assuming shape with the roof of the finishing room nearly completed and the walls of the machine room finished in about a week. Four of the large nine feet in diameter penstocks are in place and the head  gate masonry is underway. Contract has been let by the paper company for 12 houses in the residence section – contractor is Mr. Summers of Portland.  The Power Company has streets in the business section under construction and will start soon on streets for the residence section. The Power Co is receiving bids for the superstructure of the Hartford Street canal bridge. Maxwell Bros. have two thirds of the east side bridge abutment completed and have started laying stones on the west side. Prominent visitors this week included: George d. Bisbee, Hugh J. Chisholm, Daniel F. Emery, M.G. Shaw, T.R. Simonton, C.D. Brown and E.H. Haskell.


September 20, 1892:


Rumford Falls:  Business parties from Portland and Auburn visit.  Eight new buildings were going up in the business district, five on Congress Street, two on Canal Street and one on River Street.  Two men, Coulombe and Bake are preparing a large building’s foundation on Congress Street. Work on the mills and railroad continued.


October 4, 1892


Special Column reprinted in the Oxford Democrat by C.E. Ludden who wrote the original article for the New England Farmer.


Why not Boom Maine?


A veritable Western Boom has Descended on the Pine Tree State.


Article describes the boom times that occurred in the Rumford Falls area. Some main points are: The Androscoggin valley is noted for its fine intervales. A few miles from Canton, capitalists are putting a new city together where only a year ago a howling wilderness existed. Millions of dollars will be laid out here this year. A new railroad has been built into the town, one of the world’s largest pulp mills will be operating in the fall of 1892. Boarding houses, stores, dwellings and buildings are going up on every hand.  Click here to read the complete article.


October 11, 1892:


Rumford Falls: New business: Bryant & Lander of Kingfield, Maine are to open a hardware store in the Shaw block and they have bought a lot from J.C. Fogg and are at work on the foundation for a large building. J.A. Badger has sold a corner lot on Congress and Bridge Streets to a party from Vassalboro.  William Coulombe of Berlin Falls is building a large boarding house on River Street.


Engineers from Massachusetts Electric Engineering Co. were here regarding the site for the light station. The hotel is expected to be completed this month.


The (Rumford Falls) Power Co. has let the contract for the approaches to the west end of the bridge to James McGregor. There will be 10,000 yards if earth and rock excavations.


October 18, 1892


Rumford Falls: New buildings- Corner of Exchange and Canal Streets A.
E. Bartlett is building a foundation for  Joseph Hall of Gorham, NH.
Franklin Street – Edward Francis of Bath, Maine is building two houses for Granby, Vt. Parties. Knox Street – Everson of Everson & Liddle Contractors has bought ten lots in the residence section, plans building on six lots this fall. Hancock Street – one house by Howard & Babb. Congress and Bridge Streets – three story building by J.A. Badger. Congress Street – a store, Baron & Baker. Houses for the Paper Co. are going up. River Street: A. Cote new house.


Paper Company mill: The boiler makers are putting up a large smoke stack five feet in diameter and 165 feet high – not guyed.


Water system: Pipe is here; C.W. Talcott of Woonsocket, Rhode Island is expected to start installation soon.


October 25, 1892


Rumford Falls: New Corporation formed to manufacture Sulphite pulp. George Fletcher – principal stockholder – claims mill will be one of largest in Maine, and will be built this winter.


The Paper Co. is distributing 16 inch cast iron pipe from the upper dam to the mill.  Machinery is expected soon.


Portland and Rumford Falls Railway: due to increased amount of freight a new engine has been ordered. “It is a daisy and I think outrivals the other big freight engine.”


Maxwell Bros. have finished the abutment on the east side of the river and have put an extra force on the other side of the river quarrying and laying a base. Another derrick has been set up.  “A bridge seems to be the greatest necessity here at present.”


C.W. Talcott and a crew of 40 Italians will start work on the sewers here soon.


A Mr. Field of Exeter, NH, came to look over opening a furniture store here. W.V. Lander (from Kingfield) is doing a good business in stoves, hardware, etc. 


Among the visitors this week: Judge Wilson, Daniel Emery, Jr., George Fletcher, Hugh J. Chisholm and C.W. Talcott.


We notice a sign on the Shaw Block, “Hotel Rumford”, and shall be glad when the hotel is opened.


November 1, 1892


Rumford Falls Publishing Company: A new Rumford Falls enterprise has been organized to carry on a local publishing and general printing business. Officers of the Rumford Falls Publishing Company were: President, Waldo Pettengill, Rumford Falls; Treasurer, E.N. Carver, Canton; Clerk, George Noyes, Portland; Directors, Waldo Pettengill, E.N. Carver, Harry A Lane, Auburn, A.K. Morrison, Rumford Falls, and A.D. Park, Hartford.


The company has purchased the plant and business of the Canton Telephone, Dixfield Citizen and Rumford Falls Echo, previously published at Canton.  Mr. Carver of Canton was editor and manager.  Mr. Lane of Auburn was experienced in printing and will run the job printing office. A new office was to be located at Rumford Falls.


Rumford Falls.  A new corporation organized in Portland has the charter to manufacture Sulphite pulp and fiber here. Capital stock was valued at $200,000. President was Allan W. Fletcher, Detroit, Michigan; Treasurer, Hugh F. Chisholm, Portland. Bids were opened for the contract of setting in foundations for the mill but the appointed contractor’s name was not yet announced. 


New buildings: Atwood & Lowe, grain dealers, will operate from a new three story building equipped with electric motors for grinding corn, oats, etc. Foster & Weymouth have leased a lot for a mill to manufacture doors, sash, blinds, etc. The mill will be two stories and 40 by 80 feet. Joseph Hall of Gorham, NH, has a store going up on the corner of Exchange and Canal Streets. The Shaw Block’s stores were all leased. 


Portland and Rumford Falls Railway: To build the Mechanic Falls to Danville Junction extension was on the week’s agenda. Six bids were opened.  They were all rejected because of a change in route plans. Bidders were given an extension of time.


Water system: C.W. Talcott started laying pipe just above the mill and the excavation for pipe installation at the upper dam has started. Forty Italians have arrived here to work for the Light and Water Company


Dam: Work on the last section has begun. The water level has already risen 18 – 20 inches above the falls.



November 8, 1892


Rumford Falls: The water is flowing over the upper dam.  The river level has been raised 20 feet there and at Rumford Center – five miles up the river about four feet. Ethan Willis – contractor for the light station – has started work. Fred Carroll is foreman for the Light and Water Co. Work has started on trenches for the water and sewer lines near the corner of Hartford and Congress Streets.  There is an advertisement out for 100 workers, pay $1.75 per day.  The bridge abutments are done and now the contractor is waiting for delivery of the iron superstructure.


November 15, 1892


Rumford Falls: Digging water and sewer trenches creates a sight: 125 men throwing up large mounds of earth and stone. The sewer pipes will be laid 11 feet deep.  Many inhabitants of the Island will put water into their houses this fall.  Light and Water Co will put 15 arc lights in the business section this fall. Incandescent lights will be put into most of the stores, the hotel, railroad station and many private residences.  Dr. Cameron from Lubec, Maine has started medical practice here.  A drug store will open in the corner store of the Shaw Block when the building is finished.  Babbitt Bros., of Lewiston will open a first class clothier’s shop next to the post office. Lots on Congress Street sell for $525 to $575, last June they were going for $400.



December 13, 1892


Rumford Falls: One car load of ironwork for the bridge has arrived.  Furniture is being set up in the Hotel Rumford; water and sewer pipes have been connected to the hotel.


Chase and Gilbert of North New Portland have leased on of the corner stores in the Shaw Block and intend to stock it with a nice line of groceries.


Everson & Liddle have finished one of the abutments of the Hartford Street bridge.


Grading for the new depot grounds (vicinity of the end of Hartford Street bridge) is almost completed but work on the station will not be started until spring.


Greenleaf & Merrill are rushing their work on the new Sulphite


December 27, 1892


Rumford Falls: The Chemical Association has completed their mill and will start up as soon as water is let into the canal. All of their machinery is of the latest and improved patterns. It has the largest dynamo ever built by the Thompson-Houghton Company. They will manufacture caustic soda and bleaching powders.  They expect to produce about 3 ½ tons per day this winter and increase to 40 tons per day.