The Building of Derby

The Bangor Daily Commercial Story from Saturday, November 18, 1905 was serialized in a few issues of the Town Crier in 1971.
At that time an original copy was loaned to the editor by Eddie Ricker.
This is the complete series of reprints as compiled and edited for the Milo Free Public Library by C.K.Ellison, ©1998-2002.

NOTE – Milo Junction was later renamed Derby.


Up here in the southeast corner of Piscataquis County is located Milo Junction. Previous to the past year very little has ever been heard of Milo Junction other that it was a junction point for the Bangor & Aroostook trains and also that it was a most dismal place in which to wait for trains. There was nothing here other than a railroad station which was destroyed by fire and has been rebuilt: one water tank, a coal shed and a gloomy looking dwelling house completing the architectural part of the place. It was one of the smallest settlements in the country and was one of the quietest.

Today things assume an entirely different aspect here. The new rail station which was completed last year or more ago to replace the one burned is a large comfortable depot with roomy waiting rooms, good sized ticket offices and neat and roomy baggage rooms and out houses. This is not all by any means for it is Milo Junction that the second largest car shops and repair works in New England are being built by the Bangor & Aroostook Railroad Co. Not only are the car shops and repair works under the process of construction but a good-sized village is being erected by a multitude of carpenters and masons in the employ of the railroad company.

Milo Junction is the center of activity in Piscataquis County. Over 400 machinists, carpenters, painters, masons and common laborers are employed from early morning till late at night in an effort to get the work completed at as early date as possible.

The dwelling houses which are being built are for the housing of the numberless employees of the railroad company who will be employed here after the repair shops are constructed and in use. At the present time 47 homes are in the process of construction. These houses are neat, well built, comfortable looking structures and are to be supplied with all the modern conveniences consistent to their location. They will be painted the same color and when finished will make a very modern and neat looking settlement.

In addition to these houses for the use of employees a fine 40 room hotel will be built. This hotel will furnish accommodations for those who are not in a position to occupy the dwelling houses on the railroad company’s property. This hotel will like the houses be thoroughly up-to-date in every respect.

Derby Grammar School

For the benefit and amusement of the employees a good sized and attractive casino will be constructed. This will give the employees and their families an excellent opportunity to spend their evenings and thus break the monotony of life away from the city. A modern school building will be built and last but by no means least a church where services will be held. In short it will, when finished be a very comfortable little village in which to live.

The enormous sum of about $1,000,000 will be expended by the railroad company at Milo Junction before the work is completed. It will cost this amount of money to construct the big shops and the houses, hotel, casino and numerous other buildings. It is anticipated that early spring will see the hustling little town ready to hand the large amount of business which will come its way.

The car shops themselves are being built in the very best possible manner. They are said to correspond with the enormous plant of a similar nature owned and operated by the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad at Readville, Mass. The latter named shops are by far the largest in New England while the Bangor and Aroostook’s new shops will be a close second in size while in apparatus and general fittings they will be fully equal to the Massachusetts shops. They will furnish steady year-around employment to about 400 people. The great change that will be made by launching 400 people into the Town of Milo and the benefit to be gained there is not a hard matter to imagine. That the benefit will be great and will be lasting there is no doubt.

The hustling village of Milo, one mile and a half up the main line of the Bangor & Aroostook from the Junction, is one of the most enterprising towns in eastern Maine. It has come up in a most wonderful manner in the last few years. Several new manufacturers have been located there and they are there to stay. There has been a real estate boom and likewise in great building boom. Just how many fine dwelling houses and other buildings built in Milo village, proper, the past few years, would be a hard matter to state. The number would go well up toward the three figure mark.

The chief business in Milo, is the manufacturing industries and the town is quite a lumbering center. Up north is one of the best lumbering sections in the Pine Tree State and lumbering done on a large scale at Lakeview Plantation, several miles distant. In consequence of its location Milo draws a good amount of business from the yearly lumbering operations. When the Bangor & Aroostook company gets through with its building and changes its army of workmen from Hartwell to Milo Junction one can readily see that it will add greatly to the business interests of Milo village. As has been before stated the Junction is but one mile and a half from the village and the intervening land is fast being covered by houses built by the landowners who are quick to realize that it is but a question of a short time when the Junction and the village will be practically one and the same place if present indications amount to anything.

Milo Junction has always been an important junction point on the road’s system. Now that it is to become the scene of the company’s building and repairs, it will be in the truest sense of the word the central point of the Bangor & Aroostook system. It will be the meeting point of all the different portions of the great system which is fast opening up eastern Maine.

At no other place on the road could connections with all branches be as easily made as at Milo Junction. This the company realized and therefore selected the Junction to preference to Houlton, which had it been chosen as the seat of operations would have taken everything to one end of the system so to speak. It is due to this central location that the formerly desolate and practically unheard of place was selected as the site of the big new plant and the general storehouse of the company.

shopsIn addition to all these reasons the place is also, remarkably well fitted topographically for the purpose which it is to serve. The Junction is the point on the old Bangor & Aroostook system, where the Moosehead Lake branch left the main line which goes to Brownville where the Katahdin Iron works branch begins. As is commonly known, the main line continues through to Houlton, Presque Isle, Caribou and to the road’s most northern point at Van Buren.

A few miles south of the Junction is the South LaGrange Junction where the Northern Seaport road leaves the main line and leads through the center of Penobscot county and through to the recently developed seaport of Stockton Springs. All this serves to place Milo Junction at a central point in the system.

The conditions of the country hereabout also served to help the officias of the road in their selection of a place for the new shops. On the left of the main tracks and slightly to the southwest is a broad stretch so generally level and smooth that practically no grading work was necessary. On the other side is a slight eminence from the top of which on can overlook the surrounding country for miles around. This knoll is not steep enough to make climbing difficult and yet it has a sufficient elevation to assure the most healthful conditions. At this point the Bangor & Aroostook owns 80 acres of land, about 25 of which are now being built over with new houses while on the flats just below are 50 acres and the shops now in the process of construction cover seven and one-half acres.

The new village which is being made by the erection of the residences and other buildings for the use of the employees will be a well arranges settlement. It is plotted out into squares similar to some of the larger cities in this country. Parallel with the railroad track and about 400 feet from the track is the first street and it is called First Street. Just beyond will be Second Street. At right angles to these two highways and extending from the railroad track well over toward Pleasant River [Sebec River] which winds through about 80 acres of the company’s land are A street, B street and Main Street, Main Street is given the name of Main for the reason that it strikes the railroad nearest to the depot building.

Up-to-date coal pockets will be established at some other point on the company’s land. In this manner the common will not be defaced by the rather ugly looking coal sheds. The water tank which stands near will, however, not be moved. The principal house in the village will be the residence of the superintendent of the works. This will be the finest, largest and most thoroughly modern of all the structures. It will be built on the northern corner of Main and First streets, facing toward the south and the west. It will contain 14 rooms all of good size and very conveniently arranged.

On the northerly side of First Street and between Main and A streets are nine, nine room houses, now nearly completed. Back of these and the superintendent’s house on Second Street are ten more houses of the same size as the nine previously mentioned. These houses are now in the hands of the inside finishers and will soon be ready for occupancy. Between Main and B streets are five more houses of the same size in various stages of construction. This makes a total of 29 nine room houses. On the north side of Second Street, between A and B streets are thirteen six room residences. These are for those who desire cheaper rents and not so large quarters as would be used in the nine room dwellings.

No Outsiders Allowed: The Bangor & Aroostook company will allow absolutely no business whatever to be transacted on the 80 acres of land which they control by the general public. All stores must be across the railroad tracks on the road which swings from the Junction toward Milo. The stores will however, be located near enough so that the inhabitants of the village may do their shopping with no inconvenience. The village proper, will, however be kept free from the intrusion of all kinds of mercantile establishments. The merchants of Milo are anticipating the grand opening of business with interest and already several of the most enterprising have built little stores on the extension where they are now doing business with the army of mechanics.

As 25 of the 80 acres of the company’s tract is used for building purposes there will be 35 acres left clear of buildings. In summer this is a very pretty place and this 35 acres will largely be used as a common playground for the children of the employees. In the winter the casino, the school, and the church will help break up the monotony of the long cold season.

The Big Repair Shops: The principal part of the whole business is the immense repair car shops which will bring the people and keep them supplied with the necessities of life by the employment they will furnish.

To commence with the building of the shops and general work at the Junction is carried on under the direct supervision of O. Stewart, the superintendent of locomotive power of the Bangor & Aroostook system. That Mr. Stewart is a very busy man is easily imagined.

Work on the plant was begun May 1 and has since been rushed, the contract calls for the completion of the entire work by Jan. 1, 1906. This means a great rush of work throughout the cold weather, now setting in. The builders are confident, however, that they will be able to complete things to comply with the contract.

The plant is made up of six buildings besides the big transfer stands and locomotive turn-table. The first thing noticed upon looking things over is an eight-stall round house made in a quarter circle. This is 80 feet in depth. The turn-table is directly in front. Directly in back of this looms up the lofty chimney, just outside the power and machine shops. The building is an irregularly shaped structure, 41 feet long on the southerly end. On the right side it runs down 125 feet and then at right angle makes out 150 feet squaring on the northerly side which will have a frontage on the north side which fronts on the big transfer stand and is 242 feet in width.

On the left the wall runs down 90 feet and juts out for 50 feet and six inches for the blocking out shop, then extends 137 feet to the northern wall. This is really the most important building on the lot but not as large as the repair and paint shop. At the exteme southerly end of this building is the coal storage section and next to this comes the boiler room.

In the boiler room are three immense tubular boilers. The engine room comes next in which will be also be the dynamo for furnishing the electric juice to light the entire plant. The air compressing machinery is also located in the boiler quarters.

To the west of the power apartment is the blocking out shop. The remainder of the building is to be used as a general machine shop and the locomotive repair department, also the blacksmith section where many smithies will be kept continually busy. The space devoted to these later departments is 242 by 102 feet.

In a westerly direction from this building is the mill and woodworking shops. This is 152 x 52 feet in size and in the same direction and near the later department is the lumber shed, 150 by 60 feet. The transfer shed, 370 feet in length and 75 feet wide, stands north of those buildings. This part of the plant is so arranged that cars may be moved along to enter whatever part of the plant is desired to reach.

To the north of the transfer shed stands the largest building in the group, the passenger and freight car repair and paint shop. This is in reality two buildings under one roof for the department given up to decoration occupies one whole end of it. A wall will separate the two departments. This building is 322 x 167 feet in size and is the largest in the county of Piscataquis.

To the east stands the large storehouse and office building. This is 153 x 52 feet in size and the northern portion for the depth of 52 feet will be used for the executive and clerical work of the plant. The remainder will be used as a storehouse for all kinds of railroad supplies. They will be shipped from here to all other points on the system.

With the exception of the round-house all are walled in and the roofs cover the greater part of them. The carpenters have been busy for several weeks past in putting in the windows preparatory to the cold weather. The concrete walls and concrete supports for the rails are in place.

Judgement has been used in the expenditure but cost has not been spared in the construction. Everything is of the best possible quality. The workmanship is the best that money can secure.

The plant throughout is unexcelled in arrangement and practical adaptability as well as for solidity of construction. The walls have required over 3,000,000 bricks while the inside finish has used up about 1,000,000 feet of lumber to say nothing of the many and costly steel trusses which support the walls and roofs.

A particularly noticeable feature of this plant is that plans have been laid for an immense amount of work in the future. When it is fully completed it can handle more work than the whole Bangor & Aroostook system coupled with the new Northern Searsport road can turn over for years to come. It looks as if a future of increased business was surely coming as undoubtedly it is. The Bangor & Aroostook and eastern Maine is just awakening to its true possibilites and the future certainly looks rosy.

Credits: Bangor Daily Commercial, Milo Town Crier
© 2002 Milo Free Public Library