Brooklyn Cooperage Company Operations Franklin County NY

Description of the Brooklyn Cooperage contract with the Reynolds Bros. Mill. The creation of a railroad spur from St. Regis Falls to Debar Mountain. Reynoldsto, New York,

BROOKLYN COOPERAGE COMPANY  

Reynolds Bros. Contract 1908-1918  

Engine on its side on the Brooklyn Cooperage spur line into Brandon ca. 1910

 

             In 1900 the Brooklyn Cooperage Company made its first foray into Franklin County by building a stave mill in Tupper Lake and constructing a logging railroad to supply the mill   The company then gradually expanded operations northward, first to Santa Clara, where it took over the Hurd Mills, which burned in 1903, then, in 1904, the Cooperage leased the Watson Page hardwood mill in Saint Regis Falls, and built another railroad to logging tracts east of Saint Regis Falls[1]                                                                                                                                                          In 1907 Brooklyn Cooperage expanded its holdings by purchasing the Everton Lumber Company tract in the Franklin County Town of Santa Clara, including the rights-of-way for the Everton railroad.[2]  In 1908 the Cooperage Company entered into a contract with Reynolds Brothers that was to last ten years.  Shortly thereafter, Cooperage extended its railroad deeper into the Brandon woods to pick up the Reynolds’ logs. The Reynoldston extension was apparently the last rail line that the Brooklyn Cooperage built in Franklin County.  The map below shows the railroad at the bottom of the map as it passed south of Reynoldston on its way to the Everton Tract.               Brooklyn Cooperage was able to make barrels from a wide variety of wood.  In Sumter County, South Carolina, site of its largest operation, it harvested poplar, sweet gum, cypress, and pine for the majority of its barrels, but for whiskey barrels it needed the white oak that grew in that area.   In Reynoldston the most available trees were red spruce, pine, white cedar, sugar maple, beech, yellow birch and cherry.  Of these, maple, beech, birch and cherry were the hardwoods, and the most useful for barrel making.  Given the scarcity of white oak in the cold North Woods, it is likely that barrels made from Reynolds Brother’s timber were used to transport sugar, not age whiskey.                                                                                                                                                                                    Brooklyn Cooperage planted “half a million young trees on land owned by it in St. Lawrence County”[3],
but is not known to have planted any trees in Franklin County.  The reasons for the failure to replant are unclear, but by the 1930s or earlier the lack of new growth had put an end to the logging industry in the Reynoldston area.             The Reynolds Brothers’ contract to provide timber to the Brooklyn Cooperage Company connected the otherwise isolated hamlet of Reynoldston to the larger economic and even political world of its time.   Brooklyn Cooperage was a subsidiary of the American Sugar Refining Company (“ASR”).  ASR was incorporated in New Jersey in 1891, and became Domino Sugar in 1900.  By 1907 Domino Sugar and its subsidiaries owned or controlled 98% of the sugar refining capacity in the U.S., and was known as the Sugar Trust.                                                     In the first decades of the 20th century, trusts, also called cartels, were large business conglomerates that essentially monopolized the production and distribution of products as wide ranging as sugar and electricity.  Trusts were anti-competitive.  They  were so large that they constituted a barrier to entry to any firm that might try to compete with the businesses controlled by the Trust.  By bringing Brooklyn Cooperage into its trust, Domino was able to obtain barrels at a more dependable and lower price than if it had purchased those barrels from a completely independent supplier.                                                                                                                                                           The great business trusts of the years around 1900 were so powerful that they generated fervent opposition – trust busting.  President Theodore Roosevelt campaigned against the “malfactors of great wealth” that benefited from profits made by the trusts.  A Federal lawsuit to break up the Sugar Trust began in 1910 and ended by consent of the parties in 1921.  By then Domino controlled only 24% of U.S. refined sugar production.  Still,
for most if not all of the Brooklyn Cooperage era in Reynoldston, the remote Sugar Trust extended its economic power to the lives of lumberjacks and millworkers who in many cases were unaware of its existence.


[1] Free Press & Herald,  Tupper Lake, N. Y.
12986 March 17, 1971, citing Richard Palmer, the Northern Logger

[2] The Cooperage Company eventually purchased 2,465 acres  in the Everton Tract, 685 in the Conger tract
, 88 acres in the Deneen Tract and 1,723 in Pierrepont.  Id.

[3] Seaver, p. 549  

Sources:

William Gove, Logging Railroads of the Adirondacks,   Syracuse University Press, 2006. 
Frederick J. Seaver, Historical Sketches of Franklin County and its Several Towns, Albany1918.           


Eugene Bordeaux  

Do you remember the time when the Reynolds just cut for the Brooklyn Cooperage?  Didn’t cut for anybody else?

 “Yes…” 

Did they use the sawmill very much when the cut for the Brooklyn Cooperage? 

“Yeah a little bit…The basswood and some cherry see…  mostly basswood they wouldn’t take that for staves.  All the hardwood went into a stave mill.  Made barrels…sugar barrels at St Regis Falls.”

What would they do for the logs that they were getting ready for the Brooklyn Cooperage? 

“They’d draw them out to the railroad.   There was a rail road run in there…and they would draw them to the side of that railroad…and a railroad would come and pick them up.” 

How  many  camps were running when they were cutting for the Brooklyn cooperage? 

“Three or four.” 

More than usual? 

“Oh yes.”

Eugene Bordeaux Tape 5 pages 7 -8 

 How did you load the logs on the railroad cars? 

“They had a log roller..an engine on purpose to lift up the logs and swing them up on the car.”

Eugene Bordeaux Tape 1 pages 3

 

 Tom Campbell

(working for the Brooklyn Cooperage)  

 ” Oh yes.  They were in here before we were married that is up to St Regis Falls you know and they lumbered up in there for a long time before we were married…that must have been 1902, 1903. ” 

(take the railroad out)

” I think they lumbered up in here for more than six years.   

 (The Reynolds used the railroad) 

Oh yes they shipped  out pulp…instead of hard wood.  Of course the Cooperage Company always took
the hardwood logs and the paper company had the pulp that the Reynolds’ cut…they
shipped it right out on the railroad

Tom Campbell Tape 2  p. 2

      

 

 

 

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