In partnership with the Maine Memory Network Maine Memory Network

Maine's Swedish Colony, July 23, 1870

Industry

The presence of good water flow volume along the Madawaska Stream enabled Stockholm to become the industrial center of the Colony. Logs could be floated, and steam-driven factories were set up along the river banks. After 1900, when the first permanent bridge across the stream in the community was constructed, settlement and development of Stockholm (in both residential and industrial sectors) took off. From 1900-1920 was boom time for this community. By 1920 Stockholm’s population had soared to 1,038, surpassing New Sweden’s population of 963. Stockholm’s population peaked at 1,300 in 1925.

The Great Depression, coupled with the loss of Atlas Plywood (the town’s major wood products industry) in 1935, signaled the end of “industrial” Stockholm. Lacking the agricultural land base of the other Colony towns Stockholm’s population, and economic base, has continued to shrink.

The Stockholm Lumber Company was operated by Charles and Carl Milliken (later a Governor of Maine). The company also built a large boarding house, a store, twelve houses on Red Row for their workers’ families, a stable and two barns. By 1902 they had 150 men working with a daily output of 50,000 shingles and 15,000 other lumber. There were many crews working in the woods in the winter.

In 1902, the Standard Veneer Company (owned by Warren Trafton and Allen Quimby) purchased 20 acres of land in Stockholm Plantation from the Burleighs. By the middle of 1904, the company was shipping two cars of product each week. The company also ran a starch factory from 1904 to 1909, when it was converted to the Standard Box Company which made cleated plywood boxes for phonograph companies.

Trafton and Quimby were the officers of the Winterville Veneer Company which was dismantled in 1910 and re-erected in Stockholm, when the companies merged to become the Allen Quimby Company. The mill burned in February 1912 but was quickly rebuilt. Another plant was built in the early 1920s to make clothespins, peavey and pick-pole handles, whiffle-trees, snowshoes and perforated chair seats. It was later converted to a long lumber mill. The Veneer Company also had its own store and the Veneer Hall, which was used for movies and dances and meetings and church services.

In 1905, Lewis Whitten held the record for hauling the largest load (11 tons) of birch logs six miles to the mill with one pair of horses. The next year, the new steam log hauler made its first trip to the woods.

At the peak of Stockholm’s industrial development it was estimated that 330 men and women were employed. Many of these new people were French or English from the St. John Valley, eastern Canada, or southern Maine. The language and customs of three countries—Sweden, France and England—were subsequently all absorbed into the community.