Water Wheels / Sawmills of Hodge’s Cove

In Hodge’s Cove, as in many outport Newfoundland communities, there were several water wheels. One was located about two hundred feet downstream from Beaver Pond, at approximately where Don Smith’s house is located today. It was owned by Stephen Smith, and sons Isaac John and William. The mill operated from around 1896 to 1937/38. This wheel was of the undershoot style.

Another was owned by brothers Abijah and Archer Peddle and their cousin Ralph. Before the construction of this mill had been completed in Hodge’s Cove Brook, a huge rush of water destroyed the whole affair washing it out the river. What was salvageable was taken across the arm and set up where a small brook runs down the hillside at the lower end of Bailey’s Cove.

Samuel Drover also had a mill in Bailey’s Cove which he operated with his son Albert. One day Samuel and Albert were rowing their boat from Hodge’s Cove to Bailey’s Cove to saw lumber and they met their mill out in the cove. The dam had broken and took out the mill. Samuel was a man of few words and apparently he simply said, “That’s okay Albert; now we’ll start a mill in Crooked Gully.” Apparently Albert didn’t hang around for this event and joined the Navy instead. Samuel and his brother Willis did build a mill at Crooked Gully, several miles behind Hodge’s Cove.

Willis Drover, brother of Samuel Drover, owned and operated a water driven sawmill about 300 meters down stream from where Stephen Smith and his sons Isaac John and William Henry operated their mill. That mill was located directly below where Chris Smith lives today. As mentioned above, when Samuel’s mill was lost in Bailey’s Cove, Willis abandoned his mill to buddy up with Samuel to set up the mill at Crooked Gully ca 1915.

Another was owned by the Peddles and was located ‘upstream’ in Hodge’s Cove Brook, not much more than a hundred feet from where Walt / June Drover’s sawmill is located.

I am told that another such water wheel had been built by the Hiscock’s about three kilometers in Hodge’s Cove Brook at the Little Fall. Under the pressure of a heavy spring run-off, the “works” was washed out the brook (a la Igor) but not rebuilt.

Bakers’ sawmill is located just out back of Rick Baker’s house. * My mother Blanche (Peddle) Stringer, as a teenage girl accidentally fell and was trapped by this water wheel, breaking her collarbone. There may have been others belonging to that family line at different locations in previous years.

Smiths’ sawmill is located on out Mill Road toward Lower Beach. It is operated occasionally today by Eric Smith in whose family it has belonged.

Stringers’ mill used to be just across the road from the bus turnaround on Country Road. It was owned and operated by brothers Samuel and Cecil Stringer. It no longer exists. Today, Cec’s son Elwood has a new sawmill not far in the road from there.

Drovers’ mill was located close to where Don Smith’s private small-boat dock is at the northwestern side of the Marina. Chesley & Jim Drover and family used it. It was near where Hedley Drover’s house used to be.

Curtises’ mill was located about 25m in front of where Wilson Smith’s home is today. It was operated by Walter and his brother Neddie Curtis, and may have been owned by their father previously.

Walt and June Drover’s mill is located near the end of the pavement “on the udder side of the pond”.

Randy’s mill is still in operation. Or is it Harv’s? Or both? It is located near Beaver Pond Lane, off Country Road.

Elwood Stringer’s mill is the second one owned by that family line. Prior to that, his father Cecil and uncle Sam had a sawmill.