Society president talks on river piers

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RUMFORD – President Bell Weston presented a program on “Piers in the Rivers: When, Why, How?” at a meeting of the Rumford Historical Society.

Weston made a model to demonstrate the way piers were put together. His model was made of soft wood, as were the river piers. The top side facing the current had a slanted front made from an elm plank for a cover to deflect the ice flow.

The piers were built on the ice in the wintertime, filled with rocks, and sunk. They were used to anchor the booms, which made the channels to transport logs to the mills for making paper. The booms were tree-length spruce logs, anchored to each other by chain links.

Weston showed an actual chain that had been retrieved from the Kennebec River, and also anchor spikes that been found by a pier in the Androscoggin River.

In the early days of paper mills, logs were transported to the mill by rivers and streams. Even the smaller streams were used in the spring when the water was high. In order to keep the logs running smoothly, piers and booms were used on the larger water ways. Sometimes they were used to form more than one channel, each one going to a different mill.

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