Ballston Spa Life
Craneville Had Prominent Connections
Ballston Spa Life
The former hamlet of Craneville, located two miles north of Ballston Spa on Rock City Falls Road, was named after a man whose family was well known around the country for providing the government with its currency paper.
Lindley Murray Crane moved from Massachusetts to Milton when he was 23 years old. At this young age he purchased and renovated a paper mill on the Kayaderosseras Creek. This mill had been established years earlier and was reportedly the first paper mill built on the banks of the Kayaderosseras Creek, but other details are scarce.
Crane built a mansion across the road from his mill, which still stands today. The success of the paper mill and steady employment it provided caused several families to relocate nearby who called the new hamlet “Craneville.”
After trying out several types of paper with varying degrees of success, Crane switched to making paper cuffs, collars, belting, and pails. The mill was run by Charles Odell and used 150 horsepower of water and 600 tons of rags and canvass to produce 350 tons of collar paper annually.
Crane came from a distinguished Massachusetts family of paper makers. His grandfather Stephen built Massachusetts’ first paper mill in 1770. His eldest son Zenas (Lindley’s father) built a paper mill in Dalton and in 1801 founded Crane & Company, which survives to this day.
In 1846, Lindley’s older brother Zenas Marshall Crane invented a paper that introduced silk threads into the fiber of the paper. Since he failed to secure a patent for this invention, Zenas never profited from it even though many banks adopted the paper to print currency. The Crane family was vindicated in 1879 when it was awarded the first contract to produce the new paper for the United States currency, and has been awarded the contract ever since.
Lindley Crane’s ill health forced him to retire in 1874 and sell the mill to George West. For nearly 40 years after its takeover by West, Eagle Mill was used to manufacture manila paper for paper bags. The Union Bag & Paper Company purchased the mill when West retired in 1899. Due to the mill’s close proximity to Ballston Spa, it continued to operate for Union Bag even after other mills to the north had been sold off. This allowed residents of Craneville to continue living as they had for decades while Lindley Crane was alive.
After Union Bag pulled up stakes in the town of Milton, the mill lay idle for a few years until it was purchased by the Carthage Sulphite Pulp & Paper Company in November 1916 for $10,000. This paper company specialized in making folding box board, heavy manila paper, tag board, and board stock.
In April 1917 a devastating fire completely destroyed the mill, causing $59,000 in losses. The following week corporate officers stated that it would be rebuilt with the latest machinery, but there is no further mention of activity at the site.
Excerpts from this article were taken from Timothy Starr’s book “Lost Industries of the Kaydeross Valley,” available at the Brookside Museum. For more information, please visit www.HistoryOfSaratoga.com.