Jay/Westfield: Our Communities Then and Now
Back in the early 1900's they didn't have any of this new modern equipment we have today. They had farms and saw mills. The mills provided a lot of products back then you know. They provided wood for different manufacturing. The Bobbin Mill I'm going to tell you about opened in 1941 and stopped making bobbins in 1964. The Old Bobbin Mill down in Westfield made a lot of progress throughout these years and I'm going to tell you about it.
It all began with 2 men, called Ernest Moses Bowen and Harry G. Hunter. These incredible men had met in 7th grade gym class. From there they both wanted to grow up and be like their fathers, they wanted to run a saw mill. When they were growing up together they planned this whole thing out. When they were 25 they came together and started building the saw mill. Finally, on July 22, 1941, the mill was finished. They opened the mill and started to make bobbins. A lot of people would think that the winter would affect the bobbins, but they didn't. They could work through all seasons without any trouble. Usually they could make 100-150 bobbins out of an average size tree. When they used the Sniff River to send trees down to the mill the river would usually block up and they would have to take some dynamite and blow up the first few logs. You wouldn't believe it, but 8,000-10,000 logs were processed at the mill each day.
The mill would run on water and steam power through the winter and summer. Most of the employees lived around the towns of Westfield and Troy, and only 3 or 4 families moved closer to the mill so they wouldn't have to walk so far.
Believe it or not back then they didn't have any chain saws or equipment like we do now, they only had 2 person saws and pulp hooks. They also used 2 horses to pull at least 50 logs on the skid road when it was icy. When they cut down the trees the most common one that they used was Maple. They also used beach, and birch, but they wouldn't use any soft wood. They did a lot of woodwork because they didn't have any thing else to do if the logs were in the vat. To get the logs down to the vat they had to have the river drivers push and drive the logs down to the vat. The river drivers job was very dangerous maybe just as dangerous as the spinning because the logs could easily roll on them!
Spinning was when these huge axes were hanging from the ceiling and were cutting the logs so that they would be the right size. The worker was sitting there spinning like nothing was going on or happening. After they spun the bobbins into their shape; they hired truckers to load the bobbins into crates and take them to where they needed to go. Once the bobbins were made they shipped the bobbins to the water powered mills in Waterbury, VT. After they shipped the bobbins, they had a lot of excess wood that came off the logs. People came to take it and use it for firewood.
Around 17 people worked in the mill, but at least 4 employees worked outside with the logs. Men and woman were both allowed to be employees and either one could work inside or outside, but usually the woman would work inside.
Now I'm sure you can see that this mill worked very hard for our town from 1941-1964. After the mill closed it turned into The Mill Hollow Pub. Today it is known as The Bobbin Mill, a Restaurant that makes delicious food. As you can see there have been quite a few changes for this mill especially the mill itself.