Somewhere along the line I might have mentioned something about finding some railway axles and trucks and a pile of coal on the South side of the Exploits River near the Salmon Ladder.I Thought it must have been something left over from when they built the dam in 1908 and the coal must have been from the hoisting engines and cranes used in that operation. Later I heard something from an older gentleman (born in the late 1920’s) about a sawmill and a rail line being built from the mill to the riverside from Stoney Brook. How he had seen the rails and how they used to row across to pilfer the coal. He also said that the engine by the museum was used there-which I am a still little skeptical of.
The story was, was that his mill operated sometime between the Two World Wars. It seemed weird at the time, why would the AND Company operate a sawmill at an out of the way location across a river with no bridge, Especially when they had a perfectly good large scale sawmill operating at Grand Falls. The mystery thickens and gets stranger when I stumbled upon the fact that the AND Company did not establish the mill in question, nor did they even own the Timber rights-until later on.
Chico’s Landing near Stony Brook was Abitibi’s sulfur disposal site. It is also close to where the sawmill in question was located. It is also on Reid Lot 59. The AND Co made a deal with the Reid Company in 1905 to buy many of their lots, but interestingly enough, not part of one directly across from Grand Falls.
The timber rights for this section near Stoney Brook were obtained by a man by the name of Ellison Collishaw. Collishaw was from Nova Scotia, was born about 1868 and he was involved in the lumber trade. I thought that this sounded suspiciously like Harry Crowe and that the two must have been in cahoots in some way. This was made certain when a search revealed that the two of them had been in a car accident together in St. John’s(the two of them were burning around and ran into a horse) (Evening Telegram, MUN DAI).
Collishaw got into the lumber trade in Newfoundland and also got involved with Coaker and the FPU. Either way he managed to acquire timber limits on the land across the Exploits from Grand Falls in 1919 and set up a sawmill and a mill making lumber and barrel staves over there. It is an odd location and it is not known if he set up the tramway system that I found. I cannot figure out if they did or not from the documents. From the documents I can tell you that the mill likely ran off of kerosene engines. This is because Collishaw sold his interests on Stony to the AND Company after about a month and included in the deal were the two mills and seven barrels of kerosene-a lot more than you would need to fuel a few lamps in a logging camp. The available documents also make it seem as there was a logging camp there as well to house the men cutting wood and operating the mill.
It appears that Collishaw worked the mill long enough to produce half a car load of barrel staves and was bought out by AND Co. Collihaw did some contracting for AND at various points and from all accounts the A.N.D sometimes found themselves in difficult circumstances with outside contractors and subcontractors. So for $25,000 they bought out Collishaw. Having spent so much money on the property and equipment it can be assumed that they felt obligated to use the equipment near Stoney Brook themselves.
The additional lumber making capacity would have been welcomed because of all of the construction going on at Grand Falls at that time. Hundreds of houses were being built on new the new streets developed in the wake of World War One, in addition to expansions at the mill which included the building of the present day office buildings on the front of the mill.
There is a possibility that there was a large stand of birch in the area. Birch does not float well and lumbermen would have preferred to saw it close to where it was cut and haul out the lumber rather than the logs.
A dam is evident in the area in a map from 1929 when AND acquired the rest of the holdings in the area, probably put in place as control structure to keep logs from going too far down Stoney. All of this said, portable sawmills were not uncommon, nor were dams. But they were build and operated by the AND Co. The strangest thing in this whole story is the tramway-which if I had never seen the coal and the axles and the old aerial photos that denote some sort of transportation line in the area I would have been skeptical (1).
The rest of the story remains to be filled in. I have been told there is track in the bog parallel to the road to the Salmon ladder, but is there another steam locomotive up there somewhere and are there pieces of sawmill machinery rusting on the banks of Stoney Brook close to the sulfur dump?
(1) A trail from the area is evident in air photos from 1943 onward.