When the Anglo-Newfoundland Development Company came into being in 1905 its timber properties around Red Indian Lake and the logging headquarters of Millertown were an essential division in the paper making process, the forests were the source of the raw material, without which paper could not be made.
Lets take a step back in time and take a visit to the logging operations of the Anglo-Newfoundland Development Company in 1908-09 on the eve of pulp and paper production.
Millertown, the logging headquarters of the Harmsworth operation, is reached via the Millertown railway which branches off from the mainline at Millertown Junction. It was built in 1900 to service the lumber mills of Lewis Miller, namesake of both Millertown and Lewisporte. As you may be aware, although he invested a considerable amount of capital, Miller only operated about three seasons, before selling out the Newfoundland Timber Estates, who intern sold out to the Harmsworths. The most striking feature one sees on reaching Millertown are the large, but now idle mills built by Miller. towering above the two substantial buildings is a one hundred foot silo shaped refuse destroyer, designed to safely incinerate sawdust and wood waste.
The mills at Millertown have not operated since the fall of 1905, when the former company moved out and much of the machinery there was moved to Grand Falls, to facilitate construction there. The logging of sawlogs continued under the present Anglo-Newfoundland Development Company and in these recent seasons some of the largest log drives ever seen in the country have gone down the Exploits River from here.
To reach the camps which dot Red Indian Lake, the A.N.D Company operates a number of lake steamers, largest of which is the Lady Mary, which made it’s first trip on the lake in May of 1909. This fine steamer of an estimated 140 tons was built at Millertown over the Winter of 1908-09 under the supervision of Mr. Adam Chaulk. This vessel and the smaller Henry M are employed around the clock transporting men, horses and supplies to the 33 camps situated around the lake. In season she is employed in the towing of booms to the outlet of the Exploits.
At this time the camps are located around the lake and the lumbermen cut in an area within one mile of each camp. Most of the wood is chopped down with axes as saws seem to be in limited supply. The chop begins around the 20th of September and will continue until around the 15th of April or at whichever time the spring thaw makes operations too difficult to undertake. In winter the camps are full, with many fishermen coming in to supplement their earnings. High turnover has been noted as some 3000 men were employed in 800 positions this past season. Accustomed to cutting his own firewood each year, the Newfoundlanders need little guidance in becoming good cutters. Logging operations are under the supervision of Mr. Ben Tulk, who has worked at logging around Red Indian Lake since coming to Millertown to work for Lewis Miller some years ago.
Trees are felled by a crew of cutters, limbed and cut to manageable lengths then hauled to the lake by horse and sled. At the lake the wood is piled in brows lining the shoreline. In spring these brows of wood are rolled into the lake where they are contained in booms. These booms are then towed to the outlet of the Exploits River. To control the wood at this point in 1908-09 a dam, some 500 or more feet wide, with twenty gates was constructed.
From the lake it is about 56 miles to the booms at the Grand Falls Mill. The drive normally begins in May when the spring freshets are swollen with spring rains and snow-melt. The drive is carried out under the supervision of Mr. William Dorrity, a native of Maine with considerable experience in dam building and river driving operations in that State. The driving of the long timber is a wet and dangerous job, with crews being subjected to many rigors. There are some areas where massive jams can occur and require considerable skill or blasting to remove. Along the river, the drivers travel in “bateaus” which although in at first glance appears to be an overgrown dory, but is in fact a logging boat common in Mr. Dorrity’s home in Maine.
Some areas of difficulty on the drive include; Red Indian Falls, the Badger Chute and the sandbars near the Rushy Pond Water Chute. Accustomed to working around water and handling boats the Newfoundlanders are taking to this aspect of the work with great interest, and in fact many have worked on similar drives in the lumber industry.
The drivers camp in rough tents as they move along the river, with the last campsite being near the site of the Reid Newfoundland Railway waterspout near Rushy Pond. From there it is not a far distance to the holding booms at the mills.
At Grand Falls the drive finishes for the year and the wood is stockpiled to make both pulp and paper.
McGrath, P.T Newfoundland’s New Industry: A Souvenir and Record Issued to Commemorate the Opening of the Pulp and Paper Mills at Grand Falls 1909
Note that this is written as if being written in 1909. Visitors to Grand Falls at that time were normally also taken on a trip to Millertown to visit the logging headquarters. The second logging division, Badger, would come to be in 1910 after timber limits were acquired from the Newfoundland Pine and Pulp Company and the A.E Reed (Newfoundland) Company.