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Hidden away in the town of Danielson, Connecticut, there’s a little tucked away road that was once a main way to mills, and main source of waterpower, that helped shape the town. The mills along the Whetstone Brook include the once thriving Sayles and Sabin Mill, a.k.a - Cat Hollow Mill, Killingly Worsted Mill, and the Elmville Mill, which is better known today as the Danielson Manufacturing Company.
Cat Hollow Trail
The trail is perfect for walking, biking, even for strollers, as most of walk way is still paved. About halfway down the trails you will start to stumble upon what remains of the mills.
The Whetstone Brook, which has a 70’ drop within the first 200 yards, was the one main source of power, water-power, to the early settlers of the town of Killingly. In 1917, the first settlers of Chestnut Hill had built a sawmill at the eastern end of Whetstone. With the continuous flowing of the brook, it brought the mills to life and became a source for many small cotton and wool mills in the industrial age in the 1800’s. This beautiful and very functional water source helped make the town of Killingly one of the greatest cotton manufacturing towns in Connecticut in 1836.
Sayles and Sabin Mill : Cat Hollow Mill
Records of the land state from the 1700s a sawmill and a grist mill both existed within the vicinity of Cat Hollow Mill. Brazilla Fisher deeded his son Dexter Fisher in 1798, the 16 acres, a home, the sawmill, and gristmill for the seven years of work he provided for him over the years. In the early 1800s the land once again changed hands to Thomas Durfee and his son-in-law, Jude May. By 1828, the two of them were fully operating the mills.
Around 1850, the mills have been converted to a textile mill, this is where Sabin and Sayles from Pascoag, Rhode Island - where they operated a woolen mill. Unfortunately this mill burned down in 1858.
1875, another mill was built on the site where the Sayles and Sabin Mill once stood, and was used alongside the Dayville Mill. Once again, disaster struck and another fire broke up, and destroyed a portion of the mill around 1924. Instead of rebuilding up the site, the building became used a storage facility for the Cliquot Club Soda Co. However, the remaining building that served as storage was burned down and destroyed on December 4, 2001.
Killingly Worsted Mill
If you keep going down the trail, the second mill that you will come to is what is left of the old Killingly Worsted Mill. This was a wooden building built back in the 1860s for two women, Phebe Sayles and Sarah Potter; this mill was then named, Sayles and Potter Woolen Mill. The wooden building stood three-stories tall, and measured about 40’ x 150’ long - quite a large building. Today there is a dam that contains the water where it is needed, however before it was constructed, the water needed to be drawn from a long canal upstream.
The now present dam was built roughly in the 1870s, to help get larger amounts of water to the mill. The mill had changed hands multiple times; once in 1889 bought by Timothy E. Hopkins, who used it for the production of cashmeres; and again in 1915 by a William Litch, and operated the mill as the Killingly Worsted Company.
In 1978, there were a few fires that ripped through the mill, and a couple years later, it was completely demolished. The only thing that remains at this site now it the dam which now is a beautiful waterfall which reminds us of the industry that once was.
Elmville Mill: Danielson Manufacturing Co.
In the early 1800’s the Dexter Mill was built and became a woolen mill; completely powered by a water wheel. In 1877, a fire burned through the building, causing it to shut down. Today, there now stands a 50’ x 175’ long, three-story brick building that took its place. This mill, like all the others, changed hands multiple times. In 1935, it became the Danielson Manufacturing Company; which produced leather goods. The building is now used for mainly storage, however still remains mostly unchanged since the day it was built.