History From America's Most Famous Valleys
Scudder Falls, 1905 Postcard
St. Johnsville's little creek with its rushing water was what helped build St. Johnsville. At least 21 industries once were located along the banks of Zimmerman Creek between Scudder Falls, just north of the village, and where the stream empties into the Mohawk River. In the early days before electricity, water was the way industry was powered. The steep drop between the falls and the river made the stream swift enough so it could be used many times.
The photo is of Scudder Falls, the site of present day Kraft Filtration Plant. You can see in the photo, the Fifth Wheel, a factory operated by Charles W. Scudder. Below the Fifth Wheel was located a pitchfork factory, a machine shop, condensed milk factory, flour mill, saw mill, planning mill, a box factory, axe factory, tannery, distillery, paper mill, woolen mill, grist mill, cheese factory and foundry. For more complete details about the industries, click here.
One user of the water, Z. R. Klock who was a bit of a curmudgeon, who had a business in the Thumb Road area. He thought he owned the stream and would stop the water until he was finished with it and not before! Never mind the cries from the users lower down the stream, they would get their water when he was finished. So Alter's mill, the saw mill, the milk factory, etc. all had to wait patiently for their turn to use water power. The foundations of some of the old manufacturing places can still be seen along the banks of the little creek that could. It is still rushing in a big hurry to meet the Mighty Mohawk.
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