In the fall of 1862, a crew of men built a dam at Black Stream, a tributary of the East Branch of the Kennebec. The dam was probably erected to support a winter logging operation in which lumbermen Calvin D. Colby and William Moore, both of Bingham, were involved.
Among the business papers kept by Joseph Clark, Jr. of Caratunk, is his bill to the Black Stream Dam Company for labor and materials. The bill is dated November 16, 1862, and includes the roster of men who worked on the project, as well as an accompanying invoice from A.D. Murray for related expenses (see transcription below).
Joseph Clark, Jr. owned the hotel at Caratunk, now known as The Sterling Inn, and was involved extensively in logging and mercantile businesses. He coordinated the expenditures for the Black Stream Dam project, including an agreement with A. D. Murray to house and feed the workers traveling to and from the work site near The Forks.
Amaziah Delano Murray (a descendant of John Alden and Priscilla Mullins) ran the hotel at The Forks from about 1861 until it burned, on the night of July 26, 1874. This hotel had lodged lumbermen and travelers along the Old Canada Road since the 1830’s, when it was first known as the Sturgis Hotel, and later as Burnham’s Hotel (see map below).
The dam construction crew included local residents, as well as several men who had migrated to the Upper Kennebec from Quebec. Martin Duff, Michael Mooney, the Crottos, Thomas Travers, and Obed Stafford were some who came down the Canada Road from Quebec. The bill provides the names of the workers, the number of days each worked on the dam, and the rate at which they were paid. Hotel proprietor A.D. Murray and Charles S. Durgin, a blacksmith, billed Clark for their services. The following is a transcription of the expenses listed on the Clark bill:
Amaziah Murray housed and fed members of the crew, and their livestock, as detailed in his bill, below. The men stayed and ate at the site most of the time, but occasionally needed lodging and a meal. Note the large amount charged for meals on November 17th, probably served as the crew returned from the job site on completion of the dam.
A transcription of Murray’s bill:
The location of the dam on the stream is not certain. It was probably built near the outlet of one of the ponds, to provide a larger head of water for driving logs to the East Branch.
Notes to names on the roster:
- “Daniel Robins” may be Daniel Robinson, a Concord and Pleasant Ridge resident.
- “Robr Goodrich” is probably Robinson Goodrich, son of Benjamin Goodrich of West Forks.
- “John Obrine” is probably John O’Brien.
- “Ed House” is probably Edward Lauriston Howes of Concord.
- “William Blagin” is probably William Blagden, a teamster who lived in Skowhegan, or perhaps his son, William D. Blagden.
- Papers of Joseph Clark, Jr. Author’s Collection.
- A History of the Hotel at Caratunk. Online at Old Canada Road Historical Society.
- 1860 Wall Map of Somerset County. Portland, ME: J. Chase, Jr., Publisher. Original at Old Canada Road Historical Society, Bingham, ME.
- Information about the Sturgis/Burnham/Murray Hotel is taken from the author’s book, The Forks of the Kennebec: sources for an early history of settlement and timber speculation.