Saying Goodbye to Old King Coal

The video above illustrates where the coal was stored in the old steam plant. At its peak the steam plant provided the steam to power the entire Saco/Biddeford mill district as well as many homes in area.


The generation of power for the Saco/Biddeford mill district has evolved over the years. As one of our past blog posts addresses, the mills were originally powered by water. From water they moved on to steam. Steam remained the primary power source until the mills closed down textile operations in 2009.

Steam generation started with a coal fired boiler in the 1800’s. The coal fired boiler was then replaced with a more efficient oil boiler in 1937. Later on the oil boiler was converted to run on natural gas.

When the coal fired boiler was decommissioned in the late 1930’s the mill owners decided to leave the boiler and coal supply intact. They simply placed the new boiler right next to the old one and the steam power generation never skipped a beat.

The coal supply left behind was estimated to weigh 60 tons. Crews from the Pepperell Mill Campus and Peter Petit Excavation worked tirelessly last week to remove the coal.

Now that the coal is gone, demolition can move forward on the two boilers. Once the boilers are removed, workers will start working toward getting the space ready for its future as a destination restaurant. While we have not yet located the right restaurateur, development of the space will continue.

If you would like more information about the proposed restaurant space, you can read more about it here, or send an e-mail to

Will Kany