Adirondack sawmill questions

Discussion in 'Logging, Mining and Industrial Railroads' started by Muddy Creek, Aug 18, 2004.

  1. silver

    silver Member

    Well things have come up and I cannot tell how much time I will have up at Cranberry Lake this year. My wife and I both being back in school and the baby make things hard. San Diego to northern NY is quite a commute.

    Muddycreek I finally figured out what happened. A bit of info got lost about the Magazine article on the gaselectric. It was in the Nov/Dec 1980 issue of the Narrow Gauge and Shortline Gazette. It is on page 54. The article is by Ben Kline. Most importantly yes there are drawings.

    I am a member of the San Diego Model RR Museum. They have a very nice library and have the issue. I visited last weekend with the librarian and he figured this out. He just got back to me with the info. I am planning on going back next week........ PM me.
  2. silver

    silver Member

    I got to spend a week up in Cranberry this year I tried to get in touch with you Muddy Creek but somehow missed you. Maybe next year.

    I spent quite a bit of time researching the ROW and I met with Virginia (Sykes) Drebey and her husband Ed. She is the granddaughter of William and daughter of George Sykes. They are both in thier 90's but very lucid and knowedgeable on the history of the company. It was a great visit. They mentioned that a former engineer had recently passed and he had a huge trove of photos dating to around the end of operations. They will probably go to the Adirondak Museum and be open to research in the next few years.

    Also while there I missed twice meeting with Renne .... A very knowledgable Linn Tractor restorer. Who has at least one operable and a few in progress tractors. He is based in Rome NY and has some family ties to the Linn Co. He drove up twice to go through the tractor graveyard. He got a later model headlamp and confimed that I have an early one in poor shape. I am sad I missed him poor timing on my part I guess.

    Also while doing some dock work we found a stake pocket from a flat car. That I was able to confirm in photos that this was from an early steel car that came along from PA. Also in the lumber drying yard was a brass fire hose nozzle.

    I also did a photo survey of important still existing buildings in Cranberry related to the RR. Including the methodist church, the horse team barn, the former catholic church (built by the company for catholic workers and now a private home across RT 3 from the station/warehouse and on the ROW), the company store, the shoreline station/warehouse, and Lumber co. office. All photos were taken straight on from each side with a homemade surveyers staff with foot markings. I decided this would be a good idea to do ASAP because the co. store, barn and station/warehouse are in poor shape. Next year I will do the same in Conifer. Anyone who is interested should contact me.
  3. silver

    silver Member

    Grasse River steamer lost in the Maine woods

    At the risk of being the only person posting on this thread. Heres a real doozy. I know awile back I claimed to have found an ex Grasse River/Emporium steam engine well I spoke too soon then but it seems that there actually is one. This all stems from an old magazine I found, Locomotive & Railway Preservation of Nov/Dec 1995. In it is an article on two long abandoned steam engines in the Allagash Wilderness Waterway park in far northern Maine. These engines had been originally transported there in pieces by Lombard Tractors in the winter to be the power for the 18 mile Eagle Lake & West Branch RR opening in 1927. (interestingly the Timber Times mag this month has an article on these tractors and the gas powered on that is mentioned is from Eagle Lake Maine) The closest rail connection even when it was running is 40 miles away in Quebec so these engines were left when the RR shut down in the 1933. The two engines were parked in the enginehouse and left.

    The engine that we are most concerned with is the 1897 Schenectady built 4-6-0 class F-53 that on the Grasse River RR carried the #63. It was received after various owners starting with the Chicago, Hammond & Western, etc., from the Potato Creek RR (as #8) in 1923 and used in Penn operations pre use in NY. Then in 1925 it was sold to a Batavia NY dealer then brought to Maine in 1927. In Gove's book it is the only engine with no disposition notes.

    The Enigine stayed parked in the enginehouse until 1969 when the enginehouse was accidentally burned by an overzealous brush burner. The fire burned the wooden cab as well so now it sits outside with no cab. Since the article a local group has started the process of stablizing and removing asbestos from the boilers. It seems several groups have different ideas of what to do next.

    Here are some links with images the former #63 is usually the one on the left.

    So a kind of exciting find even if it was only in Grasse River RR/Emporium Forestry use for two years it was the only 4-6-0 on roster and the only steam survivor.
  4. silver

    silver Member

    I wrote in and got the Grasse River RR station added to this site.


    Look under St Lawrence County. The building(s) is still there actually both the station and the office are. Appparently they would pick up passengers at both sites. The office/station is a home and the station (if you can call it that) is a marina.
  5. wade

    wade New Member

    Just catching up on your thread, and very impressed with the info. I'm also displaced -- grew up in the Glens Falls area of NY, living in Nashville, TN. Get back a couple times a year and spend a few days tramping about the area looking for railroad history.

    I'm freelancing an Adk railroad through the High Peaks -- circa 1910's. Looking for inspiration for a large (scratchbuilt) sawmill. I have the Rails in the North Woods, and keep coming back to the Cranberry Lake mill photo on page 76. It's very unique with what appears to be a slight gambrel roof and shed dormer on the west side. Any other photos of the structure that you're aware of? Need more to go on, if available.

    Interesting that none of the Adk mills seem to have the second store "filing" rooms like many of the mills on the steaminthewoods web site (and the current BTS model). Any thoughts or information on that trend?
  6. silver

    silver Member

    That mill ran from 1917 til about 1927 from what I can tell fro variuos sources. It was the companies most modren and had double band saws. The machinery was stored there and slowly moved to the Conifer mill as needed. The last bits in 1948. Some walls were still standing at least until 1987. There are footings and concrete platforms still in the weeds. Last summer a Sykes decendent started a summer cottage at the site so it is hard to till how much longer that will last. The raised track bed that you can see in the pic in RITNW is still there and is actually made of a huge stack of milled lumber. It actually is super elevated, tilting toward the mill pond section. Sections of the metal smoke stacks as seen in the photo are still in the woods around it. I have been moving some of these parts around so they will not catch rain and may last a bit longer. Last summer this paid off a bit because some parts I found and moved are now being used to restore a Lynn tractor.
    As far as photos of the mill in other published sources the best pair is in "Cranberry Lake and Wanakena" one of those In the "postcard history series" by Susan Thomas Smeby from Arcadia books. On page 46 are two pics one show the north east sides and one from the south and west sides (the pic in the Gove are of the east side) An interesting thing about one is that it is from before the mill opened and the Jacobs ladder is not installed yet. From this view you can also see that the dormer is mirrored by a matching one on the other side of that roof. This dormer also has many windows so that may be the sharpening area. Being band saws they probably never left the building but were being filed during times they were not cutting. There are fewer bumpouts seen than are there in the Gove photo.

    The other picture is during operation and shows the other side of the building with the stacks. It also shows another building near the same size as the one with the Gambel. This one runs perpendicular and has a standard peaked roof it actually overhangs Silverlake it is so big. The stilts for the elevated lumber dry rack man powered railway lattice(how do you describe this) is really apparent here.

    Some other good pics are in the Cranberry Lake Bicentenial booklet compiled by Jeanne Renolds the town historian. This one is hard to find. This has good views of the cover conveyer and slash pile that is just cropped out off the left of the Gove shot. There is also a shot of loading finished and dry lumber into a NYC Lines box car.

    There is a Fowler book called "Cranberry Lake Out of the Wilderness" published in the 50's by the Adirondack Muse. It has one nice picture of the track layout on the eleveted dry rack railway. It looks like it was taken from the roof of the mill.

    A really great book that is near impossible to find is
  7. wade

    wade New Member

    Thanks for the tips. Amazon sells "Cranberry Lake and Wanakena". Using Google, I found a reference to the Bicentennial booklet, "Two towns...Two Centuries" in a defunct part of the Paul Smiths library website. Emailed their webmaster to see if they have a copy available digitally.

    My other mill inspiration is the one in the attached photo (from Adk Museum). I'm intrigued by the section in front of the stacks. Since I'm freelancing, considering using elements of both.

    Have you done any measurements on the CL site to determine the actual size of the mill? It's got to run 75x100' for the main mill building, right?

    Attached Files:

  8. silver

    silver Member

    Sorry had to step away and took longer than I thought. Yes that's the title. There are some good pictures of other things of interest in there like some shots of the Lynns in action and three different homemade speeders the ex-pullman (that is mistakedly called the ex L.O.&S #12 that is now at Strasburg in the Gove book) the one with the Tomas Flyer engine and the White railbus #11. There is also the only pics I've ever seen of the floating lumber camp on Cranberry Lake.

    The other book I was about to mention is "Whining Saws and Squealing Flanges" "book#6 in the series Logging Railroad Era of Lumbering in Pennsylvania" by Thomas T. Taber III published I think in 1973. This one dispite the title has alot of info in the NY operations and good photos of some of the unique one of a kind inventions on the line like the portable log slide and the two experimental steam engines. There is a good listing of many of the workers and thier jobs with the company that is interesting to see. A good pic of the Cranberry mill from a little above somehow. There is also picture of shay #40 after its sale to Elk River Coal and Lumber Co. in West VA. As far as weird ones there is a photo of an engine owned by Newman lumber that was originally built in 1843 for Philidelphia & Reading RR. This photo is from around the turn of the 20th century so the engine had been modernized as best as possible but still had the John Bull antique look going for it. Really ugly in a beautiful way. A very nice read and book if you can find it.

    The liberary of congress has a huge panoramic view of the Pennsylvania Emporium mill after a huge flood on thier website. I know it's not the mill you are looking for but interesting still.

    I've not been able to measure the site as it's private land. I do know the owners but I have no real way to do the large scale measuring. My tape is too short. One way that I find helps to figure scale is to use a known measurement like if you can see track then you know that is 4'8". Or if you know the lenth of the engine or car in the shot then you can work from there. I also live in CA these days and only make it maybe once a year up there for a week. So I am very busy during my time there. I do have digital photos with a surveyors stick of still existing buildings that I will get up here when I can. I am not very compu-able when it comes to this I need a bit of help.
  9. silver

    silver Member

    Thanks to another forum member I've learned that the Pennslyvania RR Museum in Strasburg have begun reprinting the "Whining saws...." as well as the rest of the Logging Railroad Era of Lumbering in Pennsylvania series.

    This is great news and the prices are quite resonable around $10 each. I've only seen the one Taber book but there are 12 in all and they cover dozens of operations. If they are all as good as the one I've seen they are a great resource. The companies covered eventually went on to log other areas of the east after moving on from "Penn's Woods" so if you are interested in other northern east coast hardwood loggers with roots in PA their early history is probably covered in this series somewhere.
  10. silver

    silver Member

    Here is a link to a very optimistic preproduction ad for the Evans Autorailer. The Grasse River had a very used one of these rare birds in the later years. It was used in passenger service and to get loggers to the worksite. Going to work in high art deco style.

    First the fantasy....

    Now the reality....

    This one is a slightly modified sister to the Grass River car and came from the same source, the Arlington and Fairfax RR of the Washington DC area.
  11. silver

    silver Member

  12. silver

    silver Member

    I found a K-line 3 rail TMCC Shay that will soon be relettered as Emporium #37. I had to wait until I could find one under $400. OUCH blew my budget for this year. It was only small consolation seeing the former $800 price tag on the box when I got it. But it will make 31 inch radius curves unlike most o scale shays. It seems the Kline is really hurting and may close shop, too bad this engine is REALLY nice. I also liked the Porter they made. So the pre layout collection grows a little. I think this one will be my one and only pricy engine.

    In my budget based research I have found that the Railking offerings from MTH have 2 engines that have come in sets and have been mass produced so have lower prices and could be good Grasse River/ Emporium engines if you don't mind or rebuild the oversized tenders. The 2-6-0 is based on an SP engine but is close to the #2 and even could pass as the #68 with some reworking of the bell and headlight location. The Railking 4-6-0 that is not the old timer(based on the Disney WDW engines) is based on the NYC F class which is the same class the #63 was in it's past life at NYC (it is the only steam surviver and is now a derilict hulk in the Maine woods) so it could easily pass with a paint job. Now if only I could find a source for O scale Linn tractors and Barnhart Loaders I would be in business.
  13. silver

    silver Member

    William Gove's new book, "Logging Railroads in the Adirondacks" came out two weeks ago. It is a great resource with lots of good info, maps and pic's on 20 some lines. There is a whole chapter on the Emporium and Grasse River operations.

    The first section is somewhat general on logging conditions and traditions in the area. There is much useful info here.

    I recomend it to any interested in the subject.
  14. Muddy Creek

    Muddy Creek Member

    Hello Silver and all still around.

    I've been away from the hobby for a while and worse, away from my Adirondack mountains for the past 6 months as I moved to the hills of western Maine to take a new job. Even though it isn't Northern NY, life here is good and I plan to stick around so I'm looking for a suitable home for me and a new railroad empire with an Adirondack Mountain logging and iron mining theme.

    I did buy the newest Gove book and it is all Silver said it is.

    As I said, life here is good and there is a lot of logging railroad history in the area. The Rangely Lakes Region Logging Museum opens this weekend and I hope to make up there this week. I joined a model RR club down in Auburn so that will help keep the interest going, too.


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