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Ruins of dam
Taken on 12/28/06
Ruins of papermill waterworks dam (see 'Dam #1' on map below) in Felts Mills

In 1889 the Taggart Paper Company (also see the Taggart Paper Mill in Watertown ruins on this page) with George Sherman and David Anderson erected a spacious pulp and paper mill located on an island in the Black River, across from Felts Mills.  The Mill was called the "Island Mill" for obvious reasons. 
The buildings cover a large space at the foot of the island, and the complex of mill buildings utilized nearly the whole island.
The main mill building was a single story and measured 168x68 feet.  The boilers themselves were large and double walled, and there were incandescent lights throughout the whole complex, with hot air blowers heating every room, and automatic sprinklers that could cover each room in the mill.
The pulp mill and grinder sat on large masonry works, and the side of the plume and the grinders were on large stone works and cement set in what was once the bed of the Black River.  The foundations were 29 and half feet high, the outside one being 12 foot thick at the base and 6 feet at the top. It was estimated that the mill had available 2000 horsepower in power from the Black River.
The paper machines could be powered by steam engines (made at the Watertown Steam Engine Company - see this page for photos of the WSEC's buildings) that could power the dynamo, elevators, fire pump, etc.
The paper making system included two Fourdrinier machines; each 120 feet long, six beating engines, refining machines, and papermaking machines. The wood went in rough wood and came out paper, all without any human touch in between.
There was also a storeroom and finishing room with the railroad line that ran between them.  A spring of water half a mile away was piped down to the mill in iron pipes.
The mill turned out 20 tons of pulp per day, paper tonnage reached 10 tons per day but had the capacity of 36 tons per day. The investment in the mill was $500,000.
The company also has a sawmill at the head of the island with a capacity of sawing 10,000 feet of lumber per day. Also, the company  had a cheese box factory on the island, which was leased out for others to run.
-From "The Growth of a Century: As Illustrated in the History of Jefferson County; NY, from 1793 to 1894" by John A. Haddock

For pictures from the island itself and the remains of the other dam see this page.

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Ruins of dam
Taken on 12/28/06
Ruins of papermill waterworks dam in Felts Mills
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Old photo of the mill as it looked when running.



The island the mill was on had an area of about 8 acres, and was once called Tannery Island, nearby is Sheep Island.  Later Tannery Island was called Mill Island when the Taggart mill was built.  At one time the Mill Island was owned by James Le Ray, and over the years had a number of sawmills, a shingle mill, a planing mill, a carding mill, a grain thresher, a cheese box factory, and in 1858 a tannery which burned in 1882.

For pictures from the island itself and the remains of the other dam see this page.

Ruins of dam
Taken on 12/28/06
Ruins of papermill dam in Felts Mills

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You can also find more photos on Derek Pearall's Facebook album, click here.

Comments from visitors:
Kate F. says: "The land that you see across the river is actually an island, which I believe is abandoned. There used to be houses and a tannery and saw mill on it, but the bridge that connected it to the main land was taken down not too long ago. You can still see where the bridge was, and in fact on any map that you look at, it shows the bridge."


Ruins of papermill buildings, Felts Mills
Taken on 12/28/06
Ruins of papermill buildings (see 'Building ruins' on map below) in Felts Mills.
There is also another picture below.

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Ruins of dam
Taken on 11/13/08
This is a long old uncontrolled spillway dam reaching from the northern shore of Black River to the island (owned by Niagara Mohawk, Mill Island?) across from Felts Mills.  The dam is 468 feet in length, built by the Taggart Paper Company when they had their mill on the island.  The waste water flowed down the north channel of Black River, and there the pulp timber was collected for the mill. This had a larger square of concrete at either end (this picture was taken from the top of one).  See 'Dam #2 on map below, right for location.
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For pictures from the island itself and remains of the other dam see this page.

Comments from visitors:
On 8/12/12 Tom Medvick wrote "In 1958 0r 59', (14 or 15 yrs old)myself and Mike Dangerfield went over this dam when water was running a foot or two above it. He with an innertube and me on an army air mattress. Few bumps and cuts but nothing serious, other than Mike being trapped for a few revolutions in the curl at bottom of dam. We floated under the old wooden plank bridge and got out just before the main highway bridge."
Ruins of dam
Taken on 11/13/08
A closer look at the dam, it looks like the wooden planks that would have been across the top have long ago rotted or broken out.  Also, during the summer the water must have gotten high enough or strong enough to push a rather large tree up onto the dam.
This can be accessed by going down the dirt road across from the corner of Route 283 (Gray Street, Black River) and 1st Street West (if you are coming from Route 3 and pass over the bridge turn right).  Go to where there seems to be a parking area, with  barricades to the right, and a small trail straight ahead.  Go to the left (heading toward Fort Drum) and a short distance in this direction the dirt road seems to turn or bear right as well as go straight ahead on a smaller path.  Go to the right, roughly following the river.  Watch for the dam on the right a short distance down this road.  When there are leaves on the trees it may be hard to see through them to see the dam, there is a small pull-off on the right near near it.
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Comments from visitors:
sfcxman writes "I had a map that showed the first bridge washed out in 1963. The remaining bridge to the island had a fire department connection that ran the length of the bridge so that water could be pumped over in case of a fire since most all vehicles were too heavy to cross."
Ruins of dam
Taken on 11/13/08
Dam across from island opposite from Felts Mills

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Ruins of dam
Taken on 11/13/08
This is one of two square holes that seemed to be for the release of water, both were toward one end of the dam.  Maybe a 'fuse plug' sort of thing?  I couldn't get close to the other one because of the large amount of water coming out of it, it also had a log jammed into it.

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Comments from visitors:
On 03/23/12 Jack S. writes "Mud Gate.  This is what the tunnel in the bottom of the dam was called when I asked years ago. Many of the dams on the Beaver River have these. They were built first then a coffer dam was built to guide the River through while the rest of the dam was being built. After the dam was finished the gate was blocked with timbers that held the water back until it reached the desired level."
Map
Topographical map showing locations of dams, bridges, and ruins


Map
Satellite map (2008, courtesy of Google Earth) map showing locations of dams, bridges, and ruins
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For some interesting pictures from the island itself (and some of the artifacts and ruins there) see this OABONNY page.

Comments from visitors:
Frederick C: "Growing up in Felts Mills in the mid 30's was a lot of fun. In the summer we would cross over the river and go berrying on what was then Pine Camp and often took the road into Black River. The bridge was probably removed when the new entrance to Camp Drum was constructed. The mill was still producing paper and would take the rolls of paper to the rr siding up on the hill."
On 4/30/13 John R. writes "I lived in Felts Mills in the 70's and can remember "exploring" the river and dams..Near the Firehouse there was a bar I think called the 'chez perez'. Also, our next door neighbor had a pet bear that I think was a retired circus bear. Does anyone else rember that?"
Ruins in Felts Mills
Taken on 09/07 by Hope M. of Perceptionphotography.biz
Bridge ruins (see 'Old Bridges' on map above) at Felts Mills
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Ruins in Felts Mills
Taken on 09/07 by Hope M. of Perceptionphotography.biz
Building ruins (see 'Building ruins' on map above) at Felts Mills.
There is also another picture above.

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Ruins of dam
Taken on 09/07 by Hope M. of Perceptionphotography.biz
Papermill ruins at Felts Mills
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Comments from visitors:
Donald D. writes: "I grew up in Felts Mills.  The smaller dam on the right is where the Felts Mills Creek dumps into the Black River.  The creek is a far cry from what it was back in the 60's and early 70's.  The old dam which is the main topic in photo was a spot where we would jump off and fish from.  Note: The water supply for the town came from the right, above the Route 3 bridge looking east on Route 3. There are some of the pipeline and well boxes left. The main dam, well boxes for the springs are located up stream from the bridge about @ 1/4 mile."
Ruins of dam
Taken on 09/07 by Hope M. of Perceptionphotography.biz
Papermill dam and bridge ruins at Felts Mills
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Felts Mills Paper Mill Dam
Date taken unknown, picture courtesy of Whitey
Felts Mills Paper Mill Dam
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Felts Mills Paper Mill Dam
Date taken unknown, picture courtesy of Whitey
Felts Mills Bridge
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Felts Mills Paper Mill Dam
Date taken unknown, picture courtesy of Whitey
Felts Mills Paper Mill Dam
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Comments from visitors:
Vinton writes "These are the old gears which raised and lowered the "headgates" (intake opening gates) for the old power turbines. It took a lot of effort to crank them even when they were in ordinary use!"

Low, vine-covered building on S. Skinner Road
Taken on 11/05/08
Low, vine-covered building on S. Skinner Road, off from Route 3, Henderson

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Low, vine-covered building on S. Skinner Road
Taken on 11/05/08
Another angle

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Page 22Page 25


Are there any old abandoned structures that you'd like to see here, then send me directions!  Or take a couple shots and send them to me.  Is there any additional info you can provide on any of these buildings?  Also send me any questions, comments, or corrections by clicking here.

 

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