The Heritage Corner, Springhill Record

February 22nd, 2012

Smith Mill Fire

April 1, 1930 – Springhill Record Smith Mill Loss in Sudden Blaze

     Fire completely demolished the mill of William Smith at Atkinson’s Pond Thursday at noon.  Nearly fifty men, employees from the mill itself, neighbours from the surrounding farms, and residents from the town worked desperately in a effort to save the mill from complete destruction, but their efforts were unavailing.  A call was sent in for the town pumper but before it could get to the scene of the conflagration, the mill was doomed.

     The cause of the fire was unknown, but it was believed that it spread from a spark from the boiler falling on the roof, which caught like tinder, and raced throughout the entire building.  The men had been in the house to dinner only five minutes when the call of fire was heard.  The call came from Bill Allen, who had been working nearby getting a load of wood.  His little daughter noticed the thick column of smoke rising from the direction of the mill, and drew his attention to it.  He immediately realized the danger and rushed to the mill.  On his arrival the flames were spreading rapidly and had too strong a grip to allow the hasty bucket brigade formed to make any impression.  By the time the pumper arrived from town, they had decided to direct their attention to an effort to save the large piles of lumber stacked nearby.  The fire had spread to this lumber, and for several hours, the fight went on.  Men worked in the terrific heat as long as they could stand it, carrying lumber out of the fire’s danger.  The fire had made great headway into the large pile of slabs stacked near the mill and the heat from this blaze was almost unbearable.

     Fire still burned deep in the piles of lumber near the site of the mill throughout Thursday night and all day Friday.  The total damage was estimated by Mr. Smith at $10,000.00.  No insurance was carried.

     After years of inactivity the town clock again functions on all four faces.  At four-thirty Friday afternoon Mr. M.R. Anderson, local jeweler, and A. Canning, caretaker of the post office, started the wheels turning.  And once again the citizens may look up to the clock for the time.

     In the completing of this work there is a great deal of credit due to M. Canning.  It was his persistence in keeping the matter before the authorities and finally securing the parts needed that has brought the matter to a successful conclusion.  Of Course, the Board of Trade and this paper have hammered over it for years, but the final work of getting it finished seems to be left with the caretaker.

     A few months ago I wrote a column about the Springhill bus and I mentioned that one of the buses manage to take off and run across the street.  I found this poem written by Danny Boutilier which I would like to share with you.

The Day The Bus Ran Wild

Now Jimmy is a high-strung man –

      Of that folks are aware.

When any little thing goes wrong

     He’s right up in the air.

And he was running true to form,

     Was anything but mild,

As from his store he madly tore

     The day the Bus ran wild.

The bus was parked around the bend,

     Her usual place to stop;

The driver Vic was checking up

     With Jimmy in the shop.

When suddenly they heard the news:

      A guy dashed in to say,

“You better make it snappy boys!

     The Bus has run away!”

Some folks declare Jimmy grabbed his hair

     And wept just like a child.

“Go catch her quick,” he cried to Vic,

     “The day the Bus ran wild.

Meanwhile, the Bus that caused the fuss

     Had raced across the street;

Went right up in the Doctors yard,

       Then started to retreat.

I’m told a lady was aboard,

      But out she quickly piled,

And you can bet she won’t forget

     The day the Bus ran wild.

Now many folks would like to know

     Just how the thing occurred,

And Vic, the driver of the Bus,

     Would like to say a word.

He says he let the motor run

     The reason was, that when

He shut her off she’d spit and cough,

      But wouldn’t start again.

To do away with the delay,

      He sometimes let her run.

“I used to kick a lot,” said Vic,

     “But not a thing was done.”

Regardless of who is to blame,

     It should occur no more;

When human lives are jeopardized

     Then folks should know the score.

I’m thinking that in someone’s book

     A warning should be filed.

There could have been a worse result

     The day the Bus ran wild.