The development of that part of St. Johnsbury known as "The Wharf" is modern history. A few years ago it was an eyesore, a swamp, an outlet for a number of sewers, a dumping place for rubbish and a dwelling place for bull-frogs. It was considered of no value until some one wanted to buy it and then it went up.
In 1894, E. T. Ide was looking for a place where he could erect a grain elevator and coal pockets within easy access of the railroad, where it would be convenient to load and unload from cars and also to load into teams. This land east of the track attracted his attention. Upon investigation he found it was what he wanted and made the purchase. Then began the task of improving the land. It was graded and drained, in some places being tilled in an average of six feet. So far, so good, but to make the improvements complete a road was needed. It required some work and planning to get this started but Mr. Ide persevered and the road was put through, the railroad and the village assisting.
From a swamp had come forth good land upon which to build and now the croak of the bull-frog has given way to the roar of the bounding billows of business activity. “The Wharf" is now a busy place and will continue to prosper. The new road made a new street, given the name of Bay street, and it is one of the most used roads in the village.
E. T. & H. K. Ide erected the first building on this improved land. They put up a splendidly equipped grain elevator, 50×80, four stories. The building is thoroughly constructed. Mr. Ide was told that he could not erect a building on this land that would not settle but he has found the he could, for the elevator hasn't moved a hair. The firm use the entire building for the transaction of their large business. Everything is as convenient as it could be made. There are bins for storing 25,000 bushels of grain. The elevator and shoots are run be electric power and have a capacity of 15,000 bushels an hour. A complete system of spouting for bagging runs from the bins on the top floor to the two lower floors. The firm stores about 2,000 tons and does a business of 5,000 or 6,000 tons. A year and a half ago an office, 20 feet square, was fitted upon the floor and all office work is done here. Two years ago the coal pockets were erected just above the elevator. They are probably constructed on the best plan of any in northern Vermont. Arrangements for automatic screenings deliver the coal from car to cart all clean. This firm was established in 1813 and incorporated in 1897. The officers are E. T. Ide, president and treasurer, Geo. M. Gray, vice-president and secretary.
Another building was erected about this time, the first floor being occupied by C. N. Corriveau as a blacksmith shop and the second floor by Louis Gingras as a carriage paint shop. The building this side of the elevator is used by the firm of Bragg & Morris where they make and keep mason supplies.
Two years ago Jones & Shields erected a building opposite the Ide elevator, 30×70, two stories, where they finish their furniture and get it ready to ship. They work four men here all the time and in the busiest season more.
Potts Bros. erected the main part of their cold storage building two years ago and the other part was put up a year ago. From the office is a long hall way and opening off this are refrigerator rooms. First an egg room, 22×37 and 10 feet high. On the sides of this room, coming from the top floor, are 83 galvanized pipes. These are filled with ice and salt from the top, the temperature being regulated by the amount of salt, it being kept at 32 degrees. Last spring 32,000 eggs were stored in this room. Next is the butter room, 20×18. This has 61 galvanized pipes, arranged much closer together than those in the egg room, as the temperature is kept lower here, 30 degrees. About 14 tons of butter were stored here. Another egg room is next, 20✗18, and then there are four rooms refrigerated from the ice placed in rooms about the same size and back to them. Vegetables, fruits, cheeses, etc., are stored in these rooms and the temperature is kept at about 32. Up stairs is a Creasy ice breaker, operated by power. The saw dust is also stored here.
The building is 92 feet front and 72 feet deep. The storage walls are so constructed that heat cannot get in. The ice house, connected to the storage building, is 35 feet high. It is near the river and the ice is easily secured. About 1200 cords have been put in this winter. The firm intends to handle this year 50,000 dozens of eggs and 20 tons of butter, besides fruits, vegetables, etc. They think of having a room sometime for the storage of poultry.
In about 1897 George C. Cary erected a building on the railroad side of Bay street where he could store a large quantity of the Martin L. Hall groceries. Last October Wilson & Taft rented the building and put in a large stock of groceries for a wholesale business. About the first of February Taft bought Wilson's interest and is now running the business alone. He keeps two men on the road, W. E. Woodward of St. Johnsbury, and B. H. Laducer of Lyndon. The goods are unloaded from the car into the building which has two stories and cellar, an electric power elevator carrying everything up and down. Next to this building Mr. Cary, in 1898, erected another which he uses for his large shingle and maple sugar business. Mr Cary is on the road for the Martin L. Hall Co., one week and the next devotes to his own business. He handles in the course of a year 45 or 50 tons of sugar and a vast number of shingles.
This, we think, completes the list of enterprises in the important part of the wharf. It is a section that has developed fast and has not yet reached the limit.