Thursday, October 8, 2009

PRESS RELEASE> Ashuelot NH Flood: Mini-Documentary in Progress


For Immediate Release

"Disaster on the River- The story of The Ashuelot, NH Paper Service Limited Mill"

Mini-Documentary Production in Progress

Producer: Reelife Documentary Productions


On Columbus Day weekend, 2005, Ashuelot, NH, The Paper Service Limited mill was ravaged and destroyed when heavy rains breached a nearby dam. Instantly, a century of family history was washed down the river. Today, there are many issues of fault and negligence that have yet to be resolved. Reelife Documentary Productions of Williamsburg, MA is producing a mini-documentary that will explore the details of  the flood and investigate the current state of the mill through interviews with mill owner Gary O'Neal and other members of the Ashuelot community. The documentary will use archival footage from NH Public TV Channel 11, WMUR Channel 9- Manchester NH and WFCR Pubic Radio- Amherst MA. Photos from the Cheshire County and Winchester Historical Society will also be included, along with those of private collections. Tom Adams, Director of Reelife Documentary Productions is also seeking photos, video, digital images and eye witness accounts of anyone who witnessed the destruction of the mill. He is hoping anyone with anything to contribute will step forward to share their story.

Adams finds this story particularly intriguing because of his own town's flood history. In 1874, Williamsburg, MA was a bustling mill town that  suffered a similar calamitous industrial disaster. A huge, poorly constructed reservoir burst, demolishing many mills, businesses and homes, and sweeping away 139 lives along the course of the Mill River. The Ashuelot, NH Paper Services Mill site dates to 1850 when it was a saw mill powered by the Fuller Dam. In 1883 Christmas papers were produced in Ashuelot, NH and in 1884, a long term relationship was established with S. S. Pierce in Boston. Blocks of 1000 sheets of 5x7 cabinet tissue were shipped all over the Americas by Rail Road Express. During WWI Jerry Packs were made and shipped to the troops for use in fox holes. The mill changed with the times and rag paper gave way to recycled tissue. Hydropower then gave way to coal which, in turn, was replaced oil. The biggest change came with the 1970's Green Revolution and the mill adapted it's operation to include green energy and alternative operation methods. The mill has long been recognized by the EPA as a model for its anti-pollution efforts. Unfortunately, due to the amount of damage caused by the flood, the mill can not be rebuilt and the owner has now filed for bankruptcy. The mini-documentary will do its part to preserve the legacy of The O'Neal family business as well as a part of New Hampshire's Paper Mill history.

To contribute to this documentary, please contact Gary O'Neal: Paper Service Limited, Box 45, Hinsdale, NH 03451, or Tom Adams:, (413) 575-9707, Williamsburg, MA,



Tom Adams
(413) 575-9707
Williamsburg, MA


  1. view the video playlist here:

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