130116 (7)out·build·ing – (outbldng)

n. A building separate from but associated with a main building.

There are a few outbuildings on Fort Pelham Farm.  Some were there when we arrived in 1967, some were put up after we got there.  The interesting part about some of these buildings is the reason they are there.  The buildings in the photograph were built by my father to house a Chase Sawmill that he purchased in the early ’70’s from Gerald Truesdell.

My father has always been a tinkerer and collector of large machinery – especially if it could be run on steam.  His big dream was to own a locomotive and have tracks running around the property – it didn’t happen. Along those lines though he amassed collection of very large machines. I remember it starting with the sawmill.  He built the original building to house it and set it up to run with the diesel power unit that came with it.  It took a while to work the bugs out of it. I remember on one of the first runs the carriage running off of its tracks and firing through the building wall – he kept it open for a while after that.  He ran it quite often and did it all by himself.

Shortly after getting the mill he purchased a small steam engine to power it.  I remember him buying a boiler that had once been in a laundry in Shelburne Falls.  I was working at Lamson & Goodnow at the time and spent the better part of a morning upstairs in one of the buildings there watching the riggers pull it out of the roof of a building across the river.  I think I was really wondering how he was going to get that huge thing into his mill.  I can’t recall if this particular piece of equipment was put in by riggers or if he managed to get it in himself.

One of the amazing things about my Dad was his ability to move huge, heavy things by himself.  He was a master of block and tackle.  He worked on this project for a long time, fabricating the things he needed to get this steam engine running.  This all was happening during the Carter years when there was a huge interest in renewable energy and he got a grant to help pay for some of the materials he needed.  When he decided to do something there wasn’t anything that was going to get in his way. The mill was glorious to watch run on steam once he had it set up.  The only real sound was the saw blade cutting through the wood.

He built the building that is currently there after snow collapsed the original one.  The boards on the outside were ones he sawed himself as well as the ones on the garage.  The mill currently sits idle but with a little effort it will be running again only with a diesel power unit this time. We look forward to cutting some of our own boards for use in other projects around the place. There is a lot to be said for having this capability. Just being able to replace siding on this outbuilding from your own woodlot is a win.  Not to mention the satisfaction of knowing that everything you’ve used has come from your property.

Dad in Mill

1978 Running the Mill

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s