The Bailey Lumber Company
Allenstown, NH


A decade after building a railroad to his granite quarry, Charles A. Bailey appears to have established a sawmill on the grounds of his old stone shed on the Chester Turnpike next to the B&M's Suncook Valley Branch.1  However, a fire is reported to have burned this first mill in 19032, and the 1906 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map did not indicate any such concern in the vicinity.

However, at some time, Bailey rebuilt, and a substantial, 60' x 140' mill, along with an accompanying boiler house and sawdust bins, were constructed to house machinery to produce finished lumber and, in particular, box shook stock, the thin pieces of lumber used to construct the boxes and crates universally used for packaging all manner of goods.  This facility, doing business as the Bailey Lumber Co., was shown on the 1912 Sanborn Insurance map.

On May 28, 1914, passing B&M locomotive #885 was believed to have started a fire on the Bailey grounds, resulting in substantial property loss by the mill.  This incident would be settled, eventually, by the state's Supreme Court.3

1912 Sanborn Map excerpt (Click for full size)

In 1918, Bailey's son, Hall E. Bailey, and other family members incorporated the box shop without a name change.4  Charles appears to have relinquished any interest in the enterprise by this time, although his contracting and quarrying business remained under his control.  The company reported an employment of 51 persons in 1920, and 36 in 1922.5  By 1923, the facility had received some minor additions, including what may have been a warehouse for an expansion into the retail building material trade.  Such expansion would continue, with additional lumber inventory stored in further shed additions shown on the 1929 Sanborn map.

1923 Sanborn Map excerpt (Click for full size)

1929 Sanborn Map excerpt (Click for full size)

Overview, looking North

Sawdust Bins, ca. 1930, Lawrence Breed Walker photo


Bailey Lumber was located just a short distance up the Suncook Valley Railroad from the Suncook Depot, so the agent there was the railroad employee who dealt with their business needs.  However, prior to the SV taking over operation of the Suncook Loop trackage in 1936, the Suncook agent was a B&M employee.  The situation thus created an B&M employee ordering cars and creating paperwork for a SV rail customer.

Bailey's was served by one siding and one facing point spur.  The spur appears to have been for receiving rough lumber as well as assorted building materials for the retail trade.  The siding ran along the main mill and the sawdust bins; out-bound carloads were loaded along this track.  The normal operation for SV train #1 switching Bailey's on the northbound morning run appears to have regularly involved placing cars in front of the locomotive down at the Suncook Yard, and thence pushing them up the line in order to conveniently shove them to their Bailey's spot.

The construction of US Route 3 through Allenstown during 1930 had originally been planned to cross the SV main at grade.  However, this would have resulted in the Suncook train regularly blocked the highway as switching operations took place, and the State wisely chose to install a concrete and steel overpass to keep the two routes from conflicting.

The Bailey Lumber Co. continued to be a valued rail customer until the very end...


1. Suncook Village, Carol A. Martel, 2008.
2. Ibid.
3. Bailey Lumber Company v. Boston Maine Railroad, 78 N.H. 94, (online at
4. Lumber World Review, Vol 34, May 25, 1918, (online at Google Books.)
5. Biennial Report of the Bureau of Labor of the State of New Hampshire, By New Hampshire Bureau of Labor, (Volume 13 and Volume 14 online at Google Books.)


Posted 3/16/18.  Copyright Earl Tuson.