Ballston Spa Life
Ballston Spa Life
Over the past few decades, the town of Milton has become increasingly popular as a bedroom community of the Capital District, especially as towns like Clifton Park and Halfmoon have become too crowded and over-priced for many home buyers.
Unfortunately, as more housing developments are added, more of Milton’s history disappears. A study of Civil War era maps of the town show a variety of stores, school houses, and factories that have been torn down to either make way for new houses or simply because they fell into disrepair.
A few of the two dozen factories that once crowded the banks of the Kayaderosseras Creek survive in some fashion, notably the Cottrell Paper Mill, which is still in operation in Rock City Falls. A mile away is the former Empire Paper Mill, now used as storage.
In West Milton, the concrete-reinforced beater room of the former Pioneer Paper Mill survives today, converted into a small residence in the 1970s. Part of the dam and several foundation walls also survived the mill’s closure in 1929.
All that remains of the mammoth axe, scythe, and tool factories of Isaiah Blood just north of Ballston Spa are a few stone foundations and a small stone bridge. Indications of a large operation are apparent at the northern boundary of the village where George West’s Glen Pulp Mill once stood.
Inside the village of Ballston Spa, the survival rate of the factories is somewhat better. The former Union Mill, later Bischoff’s Chocolate Factory, has been renovated as retail space. The huge tannery on Bath Street is today still utilized for industrial purposes, although many of the buildings have been taken down.
Indications of factories away from the Kayaderosseras are rare indeed, as most of the land has been converted to other uses. Even the ruins of the former Rowland’s Mills, pictured above, have disappeared, and only a small stone wall can be seen off Rowland Street as one approaches Route 29.
It seems inevitable that someday residents will be left only with photographs to remind them of the town’s former glory as one of Saratoga County’s largest manufacturing centers. Those with old photographs are encouraged to share them with the Brookside Museum, even as digital scans, so that the memory of this era can be preserved.
Timothy Starr has authored several history books of Ballston Spa and Saratoga County. He is currently working on a biography of Isaiah Blood, owner of the Ballston Scythe, Axe & Tool Works. His books can be seen at the Brookside Museum. For more information, visit www.ballstonhistory.com. Starr is also the Treasurer of the Board of Trustees at Brookside.