Suncook Valley Railroad Customers
Creating a comprehensive list of customers of the railroad would be a daunting task that arguably could never be completed. The initial focus of this page will be to try to document those customers that had separate sidings serving their facilities at one point in time.
Suncook was, of course, the site of the largest concentration of industry along the railroad (after switching of those industries began in 1936 with the lease and operation of the Suncook Loop to Concord.)
Suncook Mills gave the village its raison d'etre. The Pembroke Mill was built in 1860, the Webster in 1865, and the China Mill went in in 1868. All of these were built after the town was connected more directly to Manchester by the Hooksett Branch Railroad. Each of the mills had associated buildings for coal and cotton storage, as well as storage of the finished cotton fabrics. After about 70 years of operation, the Suncook Mills declared bankruptcy in 1936.
Textron would eventually acquire the mills after the cotton manufacturing ended. Textron produced rayon from cotton waste, and seems best known for its Flightex fabric for aircraft skins. In 1943, Emerson Manufacturing, formerly of Hooksett, would move into the Webster Mill, and in 1951, expand into the Pembroke Mill as well. Textron moved out of the China Mill around 1952, although the mill continues in operation to this day, perhaps the longest continuously operated textile mill in the state of NH.
Textron/Emerson Mfg Fire Insurance Map - link to map at American Textile History Museum, Lowell, MA.
Bailey Lumber Co.- finished lumber, shook stock
C.A. Bailey Quarry- an independent quarry railroad that fed traffic to the SV for over 40 years
E. Baker & Co- coal
F.E. Blodgett/Fred W. Saltmarsh- coal, wood, ice, oil Just started
Fowler Brothers Grist Mill- feed & grain NEW!
Pawtuckaway Box Co./Suncook Wood Flour Co./New England Wood Flour Co.- wood flour
Besides the freight, milk, and passenger depots, Epsom had a small assortment of various structures that full information is not known for. One small warehouse was located just north of the freight house, and was occupied by successive operators of the Gossville General Store (Silver & Hall and Silver & Young.) The freight house itself would eventually come to be occupied by a Merrimack Farmer's Exchange branch.
A long trailing point siding also extended back from the freight house siding and was used by Huckins Oil. Besides dealing in Texaco products, Huckins also operated a nearby auto garage where new Chevrolet automobiles were sold. An interview with a family member...
Frank E. Abbott- sawmill, box mfg
Evan & Page- sawmill, box mfg
Globe Mfg. Co.- overalls
Griffin & Gove- sawmill, grist mill, box mfg
Leonard Packing Co. (succeeded by Burnham & Morrill Co.)- corn, pea, vegetable packing
Merrimack Farmer's Exchange- feed dealer, branch house
New Hampshire Box & Lumber Co. (succeeded by Pittsfield Box & Lumber)- finished lumber, shook stock
Pittsfield Electric Light & Power Co.- coal fired generating station
Standard Oil Company- petroleum products
New Hampshire Artistic Web Co- garment trimmings and edgings
With the lease of the Suncook Loop commencing 6/8/36, the SV took over switching the Hooksett side track on the east side of the Merrimack River. However, the Emerson Mfg Company suffered damage to its mill during the flood two months earlier, and again during the 1938 Hurricane. By 1943, Emerson had moved their operations up to Suncook Village, taking over the Suncook Mills former Webster Mill. Despite the short duration of service, a fairly detailed account of the industries located at the Hooksett Falls can be assembled.
The Dundee Mill- linen crash
Emerson Toy & Chair- wood children's toys and furniture
Head Brickyard- bricks, of course
Manchester Traction, Light & Power/PSNH- electrical equipment
A more complete list may come later, but here are some quick comments: Sanborn Fire Insurance maps are indispensable for rail historians and prototype modelers. I also have used R.G. Dun reports, NH Bureau of Labor employment records, and a 1929-1930 NH Register, which gives listings of many businesses in towns. State records for the establishment and dissolution of corporations can help with some of the larger customers, and registries of deeds can help trace changes in ownership. Dates, details, and factoids are mined using a variety of keyword searches of Google Books; various trade journals often contain interesting nuggets that allow capsule histories to be assembled.
Posted 2/13/11. Updated 2/7/17. Copyright retained by Earl Tuson.