The Oriental Powder Mills

The Oriental Powder Mills supplied much needed gunpowder during the Civil War.  They were referred to locally as " Gambo Powder Mills."  It  was located at Gambo Falls on the Presumpscot River.  The Oriental Powder Mills owned land stretching along both sides of the Presumpscot River for over a mile.  The mills began on the Gorham side of the river but after about 10 years large developments took place on the  Windham side. 
This view, from an etching done sometime after 1871, shows a general view of the mills with Windham on the left.  The building in the foreground is the charcoal house and is on an island.  There is a saltpeter refinery in the distance on the left, as well as the "old stone mill." The mill buildings were separated by distances so that an explosion in one would not destroy the entire mills.

Gambo Powder Mills was known , unofficially, as the most important gunpowder  mill in Maine.  It was the first powder mill built in Maine (around 1824)  and remained in operation for about 80 years, longer than any other powder mill.  In addition to being the largest powder mill in Maine, it was probably the fourth largest in the nation for many years.

      This photo shows a part of the Portland & Ogdensburg Railroad running through two storehouses at the  powder mills after the mills sold a right of way .

The Old Stone Mill  located at Gambo Falls was built around 1800. It became part of the powder mills and served as a carpenter shop and foundry.


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