` The Tupper Lake, New York Bobbin Roughing Mill
Through reading Five Generations of Loom Builders (a monthly publication of Draper Corporation)
and the trips to Beebe River, New Hampshire, it was learned that Draper maintained logging and
roughing operations at Guilford, Maine, Woodford, Vermont and Tupper Lake, New York.
Beebe River made 100,000 bobbins a day, necessitating more maple and bobbin blanks. The
plants in Woodford, and Guilford helped to fill this need.
In September 1945, Draper purchased from Emporium Forestry Co. 70,000 acres of woodland in St.
Laurence County, New York. Additionally it acquired a 60-acre tract in Tupper Lake. On January 10,
1946 (according to an article in the Tupper Lake Free Press and Tupper Lake Herald), Draper opened
an office at 51 Park St. in Tupper Lake.
The purpose of the office was to create a management plan for sustained yield of the forest.
Assessments of the forest were undertaken to study growing stock and growth rate such that yield
could be increased instead of depleted.
In 1948 a 17,000 square foot, three story shaping plant, two-story office building, a garage and 40’ x
80’ pond were built on McGlaughlin Avenue. Production was in full swing by 1949. Employment was
between 50-70 people through its existence.
Rock maple was harvested, sawn and shaped into bobbin blanks. The blanks were then shipped to
Beebe River at rate of one trailer truck full, per week (thank you, Richard Mardin). In 1972, seen as a
banner year, 12 million bobbin blanks were forecast.
Draper required softwood for loom shipping crates, which came from both Tupper Lake and Beebe
River. The crate sides were built and shipped to Hopedale for final assembly.
At some point, Draper Tupper Lake began making laminated wood components for the furniture
July, 1978 saw the news that Draper Tupper Lake would be closing with all work be moved to Beebe
River. It seems that it did close in October.
In March 1988 while being demolished the entire facility burned.
Author’s note: Significant of the data enclosed is from the Tupper Lake Free Press/Tupper Lake Herald
archives. Bill Wright, January 2014.
The continuing research regarding Draper bobbins lead to the discovery of a book: “Mostly Spruce
and Hemlock” by Louis Simmons (1976) from which much of the following text was copied.
Simmons wrote that the first floor of the 3 story manufacturing building was equipped with conveyors
on the first floor for waste disposal; a 7 foot Allis-Chalmers band mill, edger, trimmer, doweling
machine and other equipment on the main working floor and a filing room on the third floor. The 40’ by
80'. pond was a hot pond heated with steam from the boiler house, in which logs were thawed and
washed before moving into the mill for processing., and nearly 2,700 feet of railroad siding were
included in the original siding along with a powerful diesel locomotive crane with a 50 foot boom, for
decking logs in †he yard, hauling from yard to hot pond, and handling heavy packages of sorted and
graded lumber. This mill went into operation on December 22, 1948. The mills lumber output
averaged 3 to 4 million feet of lumber per year.
Though the focus of these writings is bobbin manufacturing, the plant also produced other products.
Laminated wood parts (undefined) for looms and furniture components were manufactured. For a time
(again undefined) Tupper Lake also produced billets for bowling pins.
Dates at this juncture are hard to find but a 15,000 square foot addition was built to accommodate
dimensioned hardwood products.
The Simmons book was published in 1976. At that time Tupper Lake employed 65 people, down from
it’s peak of 85 in September of 1973 as the business recession deepened. The plant closing was
announced in July 1978.
A recent trip to Beebe River lead to the discovery that Richard Mardin (cited in Beebe River article)
traveled to Tupper Lake to transfer the machinery to Beebe River. Bill Wright, June 2014
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Loom crate made with wood from Tupper Lake or Beebe River.