Coal fired boilers at Pepperell Mills, Biddeford, 2017

Contributed by Biddeford Mills Museum


Pepperell Manufacturing company built Building #37, also known as the steam plant or boiler house in 1916, to provide steam to heat the local cotton mills and to power some of the mill's machinery. The boilers provided enough steam to also heat some of the nearby business and homes.

The mill drew water from the Saco River and heated it in large coal fired boilers to create steam, which was dispersed through pipes to the designated areas. The coal for steam plant came from Pennsylvania and was transported first by schooners and later by barges to Biddeford. The coal was pulled up the river by tug boat during the warm months because the river froze in the winter, so they had to bring enough coal to last through the winter. The coal was unloaded and stored on Cuts Island (later known as Factory Island) then transported to the steam plant by wagon when needed.

In 1936 the steam plant was switched to oil-fired boilers, and during World War II the mill used both oil and coal. Decades later they switched to natural gas. The steam plant stopped producing energy soon after the WestPoint Homes Company ceased operations in the Biddeford plant in 2009.

The steam plant is a red brick building with a 251 foot smoke chimney that sits on the bank of the Biddeford side of the Saco River, and as of 2019 can be easily seen from the York Hill bridge.

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About This Item

  • Title: Coal fired boilers at Pepperell Mills, Biddeford, 2017
  • Creator: Bishop, David
  • Creation Date: 2017-05-07
  • Subject Date: 1916
  • Location: Biddeford, York County, ME
  • Media: Digital Photo
  • Local Code: 748
  • Collection: Dave Bishop Photographs
  • Object Type: Image

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For more information about this item, contact:

Biddeford Mills Museum
2 Main Street, Suite 18-108, Biddeford, ME 04005
(207) 229-8976

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