The Piscataquis Hotel

photelThe Piscataquis Hotel, Derby

Colorful Landmark at Milo is Now a Community Center

Written by Edna L. Bradeen for the Piscataquis Observer, 1973

A Landmark in the Derby Area of the Town of Milo, with a long colorful history, rich in railroad activity became the property of the Town of Milo about a year and a half ago.

The Bangor and Aroostook Railroad on October 6, 1971 signed final papers which deeded what was known as the Derby Community Hall to the Town of Milo with the stipulation that the building be used for recreation purposes only.

This building was originally built between 1907-1908 following the building of the Derby Shops of the railroad; it was three stories high, with a large front and side porch and had 64 rooms. In its earliest days it was known at the Stewart House with the name later changed to the Piscataquis Hotel and in recent years has been referred to more commonly as the Derby Hotel, and finally became the Derby Community Hall. In its early days the first floor had a lobby, kitchen, dining room, offices and a few bedrooms while the second and third floors were bedrooms. At the time of the construction of this hotel, the Bangor and Aroostook Railroad was in full operation with 400 men being employed. Today [1973] it employs less than one-fourth that number.

Milo senior citizens recall that one train ran daily to Brownville bring the workmen from that area to their employment at the Derby Shops and then making a return train following working hours. Another train, a Pullman, went daily, except Sunday, to Greenville with passengers, some coming from as far away as Washington D.C. Most of the travelers would catch a boat at Greenville, which took them to the Kineo House, a popular resort area at the time. The morning run of this particular train was known as the 121 and the evening run was the 124. Today there is no passenger service out of Derby.

During all of these years the hotel was filled to capacity with the boarding workmen and transients.

Orris Dean a retired mechanical superintendent of the railroad recalls a strike of July 1, 1922 and says that the hotel was left with three boarders for a short period of time. However, new workers soon arrived from surrounding towns and the hotel was soon filled to capacity once again. Fire hit the hotel in 1923 and at this time the old roof was removed and a flat one put on.

Max Place, an office employee at Derby, recently retired, recalls that the hotel was filled when he arrived in 1927 and he was forced to find room and board at Milo. Another employee recalls that the board and room was $7 per week in 1930 and that the last manager was the late O.P. Hackett. Hackett was paid by the month to run the hotel, plus any profit he might make from its operation.

With changing times and travel by car becoming easier the hotel facilities were no longer needed. It closed its doors to hotel operations about 30 years ago. It was then used for storage purposes for the railroad offices. It was also used for a short time in 1946-47 for classroom purposes when the local schools became overcrowded.

Sometime during 1962 the building underwent another remodeling job; this time it became a one story building complete with kitchen and dining facilities in the basement and a large room on the first floor, featuring a stage and beyond this a game room. At this time it became known at the Derby Community Hall.

It was used mostly by the Derby Improvement Society and their families for meetings, wedding receptions, suppers, entertainment’s and other social events.

At the present time [1973] it is filled with activity twice a month when the Three Rivers Senior Citizens meet once a month for a business meeting and dinner and the other meeting for dinner and social times.

It is used at times for anniversary observances and for wedding receptions. Only a memory of railroad activity lingers about the building that used to bustle with boarders and transients.

Article edited & compiled by C.K. Ellison, 2002.