©1985, 1990, 2002, 2004, 2009, 2015
1030 Carmel Road North
Hampden, Maine 04444
I would like to extend my appreciation to all of those people who aided me with this project: Dr Lawrence Allin, of the University of Maine at Orono for his guidance in historical research; Gary Randall who provided sources of information; Oscar Cronk who provided the biographical sketch of Walter Arnold; the fine research assistants of the University of Maine at Orono's Special Collections; the Maine Historical Society; the State of Maine Archives; the employees of the Registry of Deeds of York, Cumberland, and Piscataquis Counties; Gerry and Mandy Packard of Sebec Lake for their assistance in finding the site; my wife, Lorraine Prince, for helping me read hundreds of microfilmed newspapers; Jim Shaw, who after coming across this history in early 2004, sent me additional information, including correspondence to Walter Arnold regarding Ray's Mill; George Kadelak for providing information and photos of Shay locomotives; and my new friends in Mississippi: Pauline Watkins, Madge F. Noble, Sharron Cauthen, and Tony Howe for tracking down a photo of Ray Lumber Company locomotive #1 in its final years in Mississippi. Finally, my thanks go toWalter Arnold for inspiring me to do this research by providing photographs, maps, and memories of this nearly forgotten community.
Walter Arnold, at age 87. Photo courtesy of Jim Shaw.
About a year before his death Walter L. Arnold, the famous trapper, visited our family in Brunswick. He brought with him his photograph album, in which we came upon the photograph of a Shay locomotive, near his cabin in the woods of Maine. I was intrigued. About two weeks later, I received by mail copies of a number of a number of photos, including the one of the locomotive.
So why is Ray's Mill so important? Shay geared locomotives were extensively used on logging railroads in the White Mountains, the forests of the South, and in the extensive logging operations on the West Coast. For some unknown reason, they were very rare in Maine, despite Maine's long history of logging. The Wild River Railroad in Gilead and Hastings, Maine is quite well known for its four Shays. Until Arnold's photo was discovered, it was generally believed that these were the only ones in Maine.
I have included copies of the four photographs, and I have captioned them with Arnold's original words which were scrawled on their backs. I have also included a map of the general features of the area, and a map that Arnold drew shortly before his death; it is a rough map, but it is very accurate.
My research will never be completed; it is only the tip of the iceberg. Hopefully it is an organized foundation for further research.
Township 7 Range 9 N.W.P., hereinafter referred to as Ray's Mill, lies due north of Sebec Lake. Adjoining it to the east is Katahdin Iron Works (KIW), to the north by Gulf Hagas, and to the west by Onowa. The particular area of concern to us here is the lowlands encircled by a ring of mountains of 1200 feet higher elevation. To the north of this lowland, known as Caribou Bog, is the Chairback Range, over which the Appalachian Trail now passes. To the southwest is Benson Mountain; to the southeast lies Roaring Brook Mountain. In this lowland is a chain of ponds consisting of Lucia Pond, Sampson Pond, Indian Pond, Dam Pond, and Houston Pond; all of these flow from west to east out Indian Stream to the West Branch of the Pleasant River at KIW. On the other hand, Caribou bog flows southerly through a pass between Benson Mountain and Roaring Brook Mountain. At the most southerly point of Caribou Bog lies a small pond now known as Ray's Mill Pond. It is here that Joseph G. Ray built his nearly forgotten sawmill over seventy years ago.
Early History of T7R9 is very sketchy. Between 1860 and 1865 a draft dodger named Sampson built a farm north of Indian Pond, and South of Barren Mountain; thus came the name of Sampson Pond. Later there were references to the "Hay Farm", but whether these were one and the same is unknown. Prior to this the area was completely wild except for visits of trappers, hunters, and surveyors.
Previous to Joseph Ray, a group of people owned portions of T7R9 in undivided interest. There were nine in all; Wilbur Grant and Jerome Butterfield of Kingman; Thomas W. Baldwin and Louise B. Whittier of Boston; John A. Weatherbee, Charlotte A. Baldwin, Joseph A. Thompson, and Ernestine Thompson of Bangor; and Margaret Dudley of Portland. It was reported that the sale to Joseph Ray was difficult to make due to the large number of people involved.
Ray, a resident of Franklin, Massachusetts, purchased the township with cash and by taking out mortgages with the sellers of the property. There were six mortgages in all, for a total sum of $86,194.47 plus 6% interest for one to two years. Together with the cash, the grand total came to about $180,000, or about $8.30 per acre. Although four out of the six mortgages were two year, Ray paid all of them off between August 16 and August 27 of 1909, less than one year after they were taken out.
Ray was reported to have been originally from Ray, Minnesota, which is the heart of a large tract of forest in the northeastern portion of the state. It is quite possible that Ray had built Ray, Minnesota, in much the same way that he built Ray, Maine, after moving to the East.
About a year after Ray purchased T7R9, he made another large purchase of land, this time in Washington County. He purchased the land on September 23, 1909 from Joseph A. Coffin. This made him the owner of 51,496 acres of blueberry lands, pine, and spruce forests. The acreage covered portions of 18 towns and townships, including Calais, East Machias, Trescott, and Cutler. In the town of Addison he purchased land which included a black granite quarry which was reputed to be of great value. The purchase even included farmlands, a creamery, wharf rights, and water power locations on the Columbia River. Together with T7R9, Ray owned over 75,000 acres in Maine, perhaps making him one the largest single, non-corporate, landowners in the state.
What happened between 1909 and 1912 at T7R9 is unclear, and it wasnt until the summer of 1912 that construction was begun on the mill and the railroad. The Ray Lumber Company was incorporated on April 24, 1912 at a meeting held in Judge John P. Deering's office at 148 Main Street, Biddeford, Maine. Deering, a municipal court judge, was wealthy, owning extensive acreage in York County.
The company was formed with $100,000 in capitol stock, with no common stock, and with nothing paid in. There were 1000 shares, at $100 per share. The corporation had four directors in all, Ray being the Treasurer. Another of the newly formed Ray Lumber Company's directors was Deering. Apparently, the company was run out of his office, or it was said to be there for legal purposes only. Winthrop B. Nye was also a director; the last director being Frederick E. Pember, a forester from Bangor. Pember was quite young since only one year before the company was formed, he was listed as a student in the Bangor-Brewer Directory. Ray held 997 shares of stock in the company; each of the others held one share.
Joseph Ray was married to Martha E. Pember, daughter of Rev. Elmer E. Pember, of Bangor, Maine. It may be surmised that Frederick might have been his brother in law.
On April 29, 1912, a Certificate of Organization of a Corporation was issued to the Ray Lumber Company. This document was signed by Joseph G. Ray, Winthrop B. Nye, Frederick E. Pember, and John D. Deering, all four of whom are listed as Directors, with Nye as President, and Ray as Treasurer.
The next deed has the clause 'with all buildings thereon', which probably would not have been included unless there was at least one substantial building on the property. In any case, the deed transferred title of the township from Ray to the Ray Lumber Company having an established place of business at Biddeford, Maine. The directories for the Biddeford-Saco area list many lumber yards, mills, etc., but the Ray Lumber Company is not among them. The deed was witnessed by Winthrop B. Nye, Notary Public in Piscataquis County. Directory listings for Nye under the headings of 'Lawyers' or 'Notary Publics' for Piscataquis County or York County have not been found.
On June 29, 1912, a meeting was held in Portland by the stockholders of the Ray Lumber Company. At this time a resolution was adopted by the Board of Directors to issue coupon bonds for up to $150,000 (150 bonds at $1000 each), at an interest rate of 6%. The bonds issued by the Ray Lumber Company were payable semi-annually until July 1, 1932 with $30 coupons, and were dated July 1, 1912. This resolution was signed by Ray, as Treasurer. Also at this meeting, the stockholders voted to increase the capitol stock from $100,000 to $200,000.
In conjunction with the issue of the bonds, the township was mortgaged to the Fidelity Trust Company of Portland, Maine. This mortgage deed has the clause:
This document was signed not only by Ray as Treasurer, but by Nye as President.
The Industrial Journal heralded the new activity at Ray's Mill for the first time in June 1912. It stated that the construction would include three miles of standard gauge track, and a large mill building for sawing hard and soft woods, with a capacity of 10,000,000 to 15,000,000 feet of lumber annually. The expected employment would be between 150 and 300 men, and 25 to 30 houses would be built near the mill. Also two large boarding houses were to be built, one for the mill workers, and one for the woodsmen. This suggests that the mill workers in general were not expected to be able to get along well with the woodsmen, who were notorious for their crude living habits.
The hardwood mill would have two Ricker bolters and fourteen turning lathes for manufacturing bobbins and dowels. They were said to be due for operation in early January.
By this time one boarding house, 100 by 36 feet, had been built, as well as 20 houses, and the store (which may be seen in one of the accompanying photographs). Fifty woodsmen were reported to be already at work, with the expectation that seven to eight million feet of logs would be cut before the winter was over. Another 100 men were already working in the mill, with many more expected as the operation grew.
A letter to the local newspaper by Eva Crabtree Burgess mentions that the town featured "several cottage-type camps near the store and post office, a large boarding house and the roundhouse, so called, that housed the engine.
John Deering was the manager for Ray Lumber's operations at Ray's Mill, and also for the properties in Washington County. The article even noted that Deering and his wife were staying at the Colonial Hotel in Bangor during this time.
Things appear to really pick up at Ray's Mill in 1913. The Ray Railroad, as it was called, followed Caribou Brook south through the pass until it came to the Canadian Pacific Railway at a place known by the Indian name "Kuroki", later shortened to "Kroki". At this junction there was a siding, and in 1913 the Maine Rail Road Commissioners Report states that a new shelter was built there named "Ray". For the first time, Ray township was listed in the Maine Register for 1913. It states that the community is unorganized, and that its postal address is the Post Office, Brownville Junction. Most important, it lists two business headings:
During 1913 a post office was established at Ray, the postmaster being Fenton W. Straw when the Maine Register came out for 1914. Population listings show that a grand total of 9 people inhabited T7R9 by 1910. By 1915 there were around 400 men working for the Ray Lumber Company, which was quite a boom in population. The Western Express Company had an office at the general store, and there had even been a school house at Ray's Mill. In 1916, the Reverend Andrew Young, a summer resident of South Dover, served as its teacher. According to a letter a letter to Arnold from a Mrs. Pearl Crozier of Abbot, she was the teacher in the fall of 1917, until a week before Christmas. She was to be paid $10 per week, and paid $5 for board, yet she wasn't paid a cent until after the new year.
Also, sometime during 1913-1914, the township became officially known as "Ray".
On August 28, 1914, the Ray Lumber Company sold 86.7 acres in the southwest corner of the township to Henry D. Moore of Haddonfield, New Jersey. This document was also signed by Ray and Nye as Treasurer and President, respectively.
Two months later the Ray Lumber Company made a deal to lease the township and the mill to a newly organized company. On October 19, 1914, the Indian Lake Lumber Company was officially organized in WestBrook, Maine, 'for the purpose of owning and leasing timberland in the State of Maine, and in foreign states and countries, with $50,000 capital stock, of which nothing is paid in.' The President and Treasurer was Karl D. Skates of Somerville, Massachusetts. The Woodstock Lumber Company of Boston was the parent company of the newly formed Indian Lake Lumber Company, and it was expected that the scale of operations would increase under the new management.
On the next day, an agreement was signed between the Ray Lumber Company and the Indian Lake Lumber Company to lease the township, the mill, the railroad, and all other equipment. The following description was contained in the document:
The description goes on to include the mill buildings, machinery, tools, etc. The only thing not leased was a portable house used by Joseph Ray.
The lease required that the mill be insured against fire, and if it should burn, the insurance accruing from the fire be used to construct another mill on the township. Another condition stated in the lease was that if the Indian Lake Lumber Company were to move the mill to the Hay Farm, or beyond, the Ray Lumber Company would have to pay the Indian Lake Lumber Company $25,000. The Ray Lumber Company owed the Fidelity Trust Company $112,000 for the balance owed on the mortgage, and repayment provisions were made for this and to destroy the bonds.
The Shay locomotive was a rare sight in these woods as there were very few in Maine, not more than half a dozen.
This particular engine was purchased new in 1912 by The Ray Lumber Company, and was shipped directly to Ray Siding
from the Lima plant in Ohio. This locomotive carried shop number 2560, and was a Class B 36-2 with three 10"x10"
cylinders, 29" wheels, and a 35.375" boiler. As-built it weighed 67,800 punds, and had a capacity of two tons of coal or 800 gallons of fuel oil, and 1200 gallons of water. It was later sold to Gammill Lumber Co. of Pelahatchie, Mississippi as their #1, and then became Apollonia Lumber Co. #1 in the same town. In 1924 it was sold to Pearl River Valley Lumber Co. of Canton, Mississippi, to be their #11, and then in 1938 to Denkmann Lumber Co. of Canton, also as their #11. Finally in 1939, it was scrapped in Canton, MS.
The other locomotive however, is known to be ex-Bangor and Aroostook #201, a 4-4-0 American type. Built in 1884 as Bangor & Piscataquis #5 by Manchester, it featured 16"x22" cylinders and 57" drivers. In 1907 it was renumbered 201, and sold to Ray Lumber Company in 1913.
The logging trucks mentioned were "disconnects", since they used such that one truck was placed under each end of a load of logs. The logs were then chained down to the trucks--thus the trucks were "connected" by only the logs. According to Arnold, the Ray Lumber Company used cars leased from the Canadian Pacific for loading the sawn lumber; this was a common arrangement for small logging railroads to make.
As for the other equipment, the Lidgerwood skidder was probably a steam donkey, commonly used in logging operations in the South and the West, and also used extensively at the slate quarries in nearby Monson. One of Arnold's photographs shows a good view of the mill. At the extreme left of the photo is what appears to be a small building blocked up off the ground. Upon close examination it may be seen that a boom extends from its base, and that it has an upright on the roof over which passes a cable which supports the boom. This, without a doubt, must have been the Lidgerwood loader.
The great wealth of logs in front of the mill, and surrounding the loader, indicate that the railroad passed on the photographer's side of the log pile. In the background may be seen two rows of camps which housed the employees. Behind the loader is the conveyor which hauled the logs out of Ray's Mill Pond and up into the mill. At the other end are the sheds which housed the sawn lumber waiting to be shipped.
According to a letter from Arnold to the St. Regis Paper Company on February 12, 1969, the railroad ran up around to the north side of Indian Pond where there was a log landing known as "The Slip". The crude map that Arnold drew shows the Slip, but also shows a branch track to the "No. 2 Camp". Lumber companies often number their camps, and in some cases the numbering wasn't even consecutive. Topographic maps of T7R9 reveal no evidence of the exact location of the No. 2 Camp. Although this map is rough (Arnold was 86 when he drew it), the details are very accurate, and the distances remarkably good. The distance he gives from Kroki Siding to the mill is 2 1/2 miles which agrees perfectly with the distance scaled off the topographic map; the deed for the lease called for 4 1/2 miles of track, which means that the railroad extended only two miles beyond the mill at the time of the deed. This puts the end of the track near Lucia Pond; the two miles from there to Indian Pond must have been built after the agreement of 1914.
The photograph of the locomotive shows the Shay quite well, although it is somewhat blurred. It is a typical two or three truck Shay, wood burning, with an oil headlight. The slot in the coupler (on which the oil can rests rests) is so that this engine may be coupled to cars which have link & pin couplers instead of the more modern knuckle coupler. In correspondence to Arnold, a Mrs. Eva Crabtree Burgess identified these men as John and Leslie Larrabee, the latter a resident of Sangerville.
The Indian Lake Lumber Company cut mostly spruce and pine for saw logs. According to Arnold, they focused their work on the sides of Benson and Roaring Brook Mountains. Whether the track was built as far as Indian Pond by the time Indian Lake Lumber took over is somewhat unclear, but there had been an extensive operation there. Arnold wrote in his article for DownEast (January, 1976):
During the winter about three million board feet of logs were landed on the ice of the pond. When the ice went out, the logs were held by a boom until they were hauled from the water on an endless chain, rolled onto railroad cars and taken to the mill.
One hundred plus years later, there are no living persons who remember life as it was at Raytown.
Nevertheless, occasionally we come across a tidbit that sheds light on this upstart town.
Linda Olsson provided pictures of her grandfather that lived at Raytown, a Mr. Walter Stapleton (see photos). He was a scalar and perhaps also a cookie at Raytown.
One of the photos she provided shows a person dressed as a clown of sorts. Perhaps the town held a costume party?
Or perhaps a traveling minstrel show made its way into the wilds
of Maine? We will never know.
Little is known about 1915 through 1918 at Ray's Mill. The Maine Register lists the Postmaster for 1916 as Roy McCoy. The Piscataquis Observer mentions several times during 1917 that a Mr. Elmer McLellan of Ray visited friends in Dover, so it is evident that the area was still active until mid 1917. During these years the State of Maine taxed T7R9 as wildlands, the owner being listed as the Ray Lumber Company. The tax on the township through 1918 was $644.35 per year. In June, 1918, the Post Office was discontinued, the mail once again being routed though Brownville Junction. Walter Arnold could not remember exactly when the mill burned, but wrote that it had all been burned or torn down by 1918.
The mill burned sometime before October of 1916; the exact date has not been determined. Arnold recounted the fire in DownEast:
All went well until the day the governor, which controls the speed, came off the engine at the sawmill. This was a common occurrence in the mills of the time, and a man was kept down in the engine and furnace room whenever the mill was running to shut off the steam instantly in case the governor failed. Otherwise, in a matter of seconds, the machinery would go faster and faster until something flew apart.
At the Ray mill somebody didn't act quickly enough. The governor came off, and before the power could be shut down, the big flywheel on the engine spun out of control and exploded. A chunk of metal struck the front of the furnace, scattering coals everywhere.
Workmen spent hours hunting for the embers, and thought they had found all of them. But that night about 10 o'clock the mill burst into flames.
The loss was estimated at $50,000. According to Arnold, the mill burned flat, and since there was not enough good timber left on the township, they decided not to rebuild.
After the fire, Eva Crabtree Burgess recalls that Mr. Pember, brother-in-law of Joseph Ray, remained at Raytown to look after the latter's interests. According to a letter to the local newspaper by Mrs. Pearl Crozier Roberts, shortly after the fire, most of the families had moved away and only five of the 15 or 20 houses were occupied. She taught school to only five children in a vacant house for ten weeks for $10 per week plus $5 for board at Mrs. Miller's, leaving a week before Christmas when the remaining families moved away. Two lumber camps were still operating, as were the two crews making shovel handles.
The Maine Register for 1919 still listed the Indian Lake Lumber Company, but noted that the post office was Brownville Junction. Nothing has been found in the Piscataquis Observer detailing the demise of Ray's Mill, and how the railroad and its engines were disposed of is yet to be answered.
On February 26, 1917, Joseph Ray sold all of his holdings in Washington County to the Sagadahoc Towing Company, which later became a part of the Pejepscot Paper Company of Topsham, Maine. He did reserve the right to continue to remove blueberries from the lands, which indicates that Ray was involved in more than just timber harvesting.
Our story winds down in late February of 1919. On the twentieth, the mortgage with Fidelity Trust was discharged (payed off). On the 22nd, the Ray Lumber Company sold its holdings, except for the public lots reserved by the State of Maine, and excepting 100 acres reserved for the Ray Lumber Company, to Frank C. Hatch of Boston, and Harold F. Ingraham, a traveling salesman from Bangor. They didn't hold onto it for long, however, for on November 27 and 30, 1920, they each sold their 1/2 undivided interest to ATCO of Milo, which was a subsidiary of the American Thread Company of New Jersey. They had mills at Milo, Lake View (Schoodic Lake), and at Willimantic, where they manufactured spools, bobbins, shooks, laths, clapboards, and long lumber. It is quite possible that ATCO bought T7R9 for birch since the area had been burned over in a massive forest fire in the mid 1800's, and birch grows quite well after a fire. From the photos it appears that there was a substantial amount of birch at Ray's Mill, and at Indian Pond near Arnold's camp.
On October 15, 1920, Joseph G. Ray petitioned the Maine Supreme Judicial Court to dissolve the Ray Lumber Company, which was granted. As there were no assets or liabilities remaining, no trustee was appointed.
Presently the St. Regis Paper Company owns T7R9. There is little left of the village except for a few foundations. Since the mid 1970's several roads have been built into the area for access to Indian Pond, and for logging. Iron pipes and valves lay rusting in the pond and nearby banks as the dam slowly disintegrates. Few remember that there once existed a thriving community of 400 people, and that there was a 6 1/2 mile railroad which wound its way up through the notch at Caribou Stream, by Lucia Pond, to The Slip at Indian Pond. On July 6, 1980, Walter Arnold, the greatest source of information about Ray's Mill, passed away in Wiscasset; his photographs remain to remind us of the obscure town called Ray's Mill.
Arnold (Walter L.) Papers, Special Collections, University of Maine at Orono (1912-1971)
Bangor & Brewer Directories, Cannon & Co., Bangor, Maine 1905, 1907, 1909-1912, 1914, 1916, 1919
"Bangor & Aroostook: The Maine Railroad", Jerry Angierand Herb Cleaves, Flying Yankee Enterprises, Lewiston, Maine, 1986
Bangor Daily News, Bangor, Maine 1912-1915, 1984
Biddeford-Saco Directories, various publishers, 1900-1925
Cole Land Transportation Museum, Bangor, Maine, www.colemuseum.org
DownEast, DownEast Publishing Co., January 1976
Industrial Journal, Journal Publishing Company, Bangor, Maine 1905-1920
Logging Railroads Of North America, www.loggingrailroads.com
Maine Postal History, Sterling T. Dow, Quarterman Publications, Inc., Lawrence Massachusetts, 1967
Maine Register, various publishers, 1900-1930
Piscataquis Observer, Dover, Maine, 1912-1919
Piscataquis County Registry of Deeds, Dover Foxcroft, Maine
Rail Road Commissioners of Maine Annual Report, 1900-1930
Shay Locomotives, www.shaylocomotives.com
York County Registry of Deeds, Alfred, Maine