Bird's Eye View of Canton
The oldest of Canton’s industries is Rockwell’s Feed Mill. It was started by Martin L. Rockwell, grandfather of the present owner-manager. Under family supervision the plant has grown from a small flour and feed mill to its present important position in the manufacture of dairy feeds. The fourth generation of the Rockwell family in now active in mill management.
The original mill, a white wooden structure on the west side of Troy Street, was built in the early 1850’s with water as the source of power. Two years later a steam engine was installed which was used until 1943, when electric motors were introduced.
In 1876 Martin L. Rockwell took over the property and operated the mill until his son Homer assumed management in 1884. For many years the mill supplied two brands of family flour, "Goldenrod" and "Pearl of Canton", together with buckwheat flour for the daily morning pancakes. Large shipments of flour and horsefeed were shipped by rail to lumber camps in Laquin and Masten.
Martin L. Rockwell II joined his father in the business in 1911. The expanding business demanded increased facilities and a railside location, so a new elevator and warehouse were built in 1914 across the road from the original mill. An addition to the new building was made in 1923 to house machinery for local grinding of grain and cracking corn.
The use of molasses in dairy feeds made a mixing unit and equipment to handle molasses directly from a 10,000 gallon storage tank necessary, so these were installed. In 1936 the main building was enlarged to nearly twice the floor space of the original structure.
The latest addition to the mill is a new grinding, mixing and storage department. The new building is 45 x 68 feet with an 85 foot elevator, the largest single unit of the plant. It increases the output to 16,000 tons annually, plus some 3,000 tons of fertilizer, lime and cement. Equipment for the new addition includes a Dalli Winchdozer, a power shovel that allows one man to unload a 20 ton car in three hours. A hopper scale of 2 ½ ton capacity to weigh ingredients when mixing feed, and two Burton 2 ½ ton mixers, whose operation maintains continuous production, one mixer being unloaded while the other is being filled. A feed dresser removes any foreign particles and a Wenger Molasses blender adds molasses to the feed, which is either sacked or loaded into a bulk truck.
The Rockwell Mill comprises Martin L. Rockwell, grandson of the founder of the business; his sister Miss Helen Rockwell; his sons Charles H. and James H. Rockwell; his daughter Mrs. Jane Palmeter and Mrs. Helen S. Rockwell, widow of his son Martin V. Rockwell.
The success of the H. Rockwell & Son mill has been built on their constant effort to offer good products at a reasonable price.
Eleanor P. Keagle (1896-1971)