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One Hundred Years of Cotton Manufacturing in Dover by John Scales

Cocheco Chats, May 1921

The first yard of cotton cloth that was manufactured in Dover was made at the old Upper Factory in 1815. Seven years later the manufacture of cloth was commenced at the lower falls where our plant is now.  A brief description of the present plant follows. 

The work is carried on in two separate mills, known officially as Number One Mill, and Numbers Two, Three, Four and Five. The Number One Mill was completed in 1877. The Number One Mill was completed in 1877. The name was taken from the original Number One Mill that was situated at the Upper Falls. The main mill is 400 feet long and five stories high; the annex is 200 feet long and of the same height. The total floor space is seven and one-half acres. 

The other mill, various parts of which are called by different numbers, is really a single mill. It extends along the west bank of the Cocheco river, at the falls, and along Washington Street. All of this mill, except that part extending along Washington Street and known as Number Five Mill, has been rebuilt during the past half century. The rebuilt portions are ordinarily called the Number Two and Three Mill, from the individual mills that were replaced by the present structure. The Number Five Mill is one of the original mills, built in 1825. The Number Two and Three Mill extends along the river 725 feet, and, with the Number Five Mill, has a floor space of fourteen acres.

The power for running the machinery is furnished by two water wheels of 750 horse-power each, and 26 boilers of 250 horse-power each. Oil is used as fuel to the amount of 75,000 gallons a week. This oil is obtained from oil fields in Mexico, and carried to Chelsea Mass., in tank ships. From there it is brought to Dover by rail and stored in the tank at the head of First Street. This tank has a storage capacity of a half million gallons. It is placed below the surface of the street to prevent oil from flowing along the ground in case of leakage. 

The power from the No. 2 Water Wheel drives the machinery directly by means of a rope drive. The No. 3 Water Wheel turns an electric generator that furnishes part of the current to drive the motors in the mill. 

The steam from the boilers drives three generators, the current from which is used in the same manner as that from the water driven generator. The two steam engines in the No. 1 Mill Engine Room, also are driven by steam from the boilers. 

The mills contain 297 cards, 150,144 spindles and 3,612 looms. The cards work up 350 bales of cotton every week. The spindles spin this cotton into 1,900,000 miles of yarn, and the looms weave this yarn into 715,000 yards of flannel and percales each week. The efforts of 1200 people, 640 men and 560 women, are combined to achieve this result. The quality of these goods is unsurpassed in America.

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