Saco River

View upriver of logs in boom and log landing on right

This view of the river is dated about 1910 and is taken from the Limington end of the bridge with Steep Falls on the left.

The section of river in the distance is known as the 'Brickyard Eddy.' There is a deposit of clay there which was used to make bricks for chimneys and hearths in the early days of Steep Falls. These bricks can still be found in several local homes.

During the annual log drives this eddy became one of the most troublesome spots on the river.

The book 'White Pine on the Saco River' discusses the business of moving logs along this stretch of river. From a diary kept by Asa Cunningham in 1940...

  • June 10, We started turning over Steep Falls. The company boom works good.
  • June 11, Run all the body of the logs out of Steep Falls Boom today.
  • June 12, Rear was below the falls at 2 PM. The big eddy below the falls is full of logs.
  • June 15, Saw Mr. Hamilton and asked him not to put the boards up at Hiram until we were over the Steep Falls Dam.
  • June 16, I found 80,000 (feet) of logs in back of the Brickyard Eddy Island dry that we will have to use horses on. Six men and Foster's team working at the dry logs.
  • June 18, Six men and team at Eddy at Steep Falls working at the dry logs.
  • June 19, Four men and a horse on the dry logs below Brickyard Eddy.
  • June 22, Rear was over Steep Falls at 2 PM. We were a day with eight men cleaning the rocks and eddy under the dam at Steep Falls. These logs ran on the rocks when the Company's boom let go. When their boom was out properly, logs did not run on these rocks.
  • June 23, Rear was in the big eddy below Steep Falls. Rear moved slowly today.
  • June 24, Hauled boat back from Limington to the rear. Had about 100 logs in back of Brickyard Eddy Island about half afloat. Carried over the bank by the high water. We had to drag them out. About all the logs in the break away seemed to land back of these two islands. Rear still in Eddy.
  • June 25, Rear was at the rocks below Brickyard Eddy tonight.

In this account, kept by Deering Lumber's drive boss, it took about 2 weeks to pass the entire log drive through the Steep Falls section. The log drive started on April 8th on the Little Ossipee and concluded when all logs arrived at Deering Lumber's sawmill on August 13.

Their ability to move the logs successfully was determined by the level of water which was controlled in this section of the river by the dams at Bonny Eagle, Steep Falls and Hiram. Power company employees (and pulp mill workers) would stack boards at each dam to raise the water to the level desired. They would then release the water with the logs and plan for the high water to carry the logs to the next dam. It was relatively easy to guide the logs along in this fast, high water. The difficult work occured when the log booms broke or the water level didn't hold up as planned. It was at those times that the logs would hang up on the rocks and in the Brickyard Eddy.

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