Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Dover’s Haunted Mill

This cotton mill known as Cocheco Mill Number 1 located in Dover, New Hampshire was built in 1890. This large 5-story building was used to manufacture cotton fabric.

Cocheco Mill on fire
In January of 1907 a fire broke out in this mill on the 4th floor. The sprinkler system was turned off for repairs so the fire spread quickly.

Many workers were trapped on the 4th and 5th floors. The power was shut down, leaving these panicked employees to escape through the darkness and smoke.

The mill had only one fire escape so many people were injured as they leapt from the upper windows. 

The fire fighters that responded from Portsmouth and Dover battled this fire for 36 hours. They found their ladders did not reach the upper floors of the mill.

30-degree temperatures hampered their efforts--it was so cold the water from the fire engines froze almost immediately and the firemen could only work in half hour shifts.

To make matters worse the wheels from several buggies driven in by sightseers cut several of the fire hoses.

In the end, six lives were lost and the million-dollar building was partially destroyed--3 stories collapsed into each other, taking tons of machinery down with them.

Just days before this fire the Mutual Insurance Company had declared it “excellent” when it came to safety.

At this point in time cotton mills often caught fire--they were not kept as clean as they are today. Cotton fiber is extremely flammable when in a light or fluffy state.

The cause for the Dover fire was never determined but it was possible friction caused by the large machinery might have set it off. Another possibility was human error.

One eyewitness to this fire--a prisoner who observed the tragedy from his cell in the Dover jail across from the mill--wrote a poem about what he saw. Here is a link to his poem.

The Hauntings

This building is considered to be extremely haunted. The old mill was renovated and used to manufacture fire engines and then rifles. Today it houses offices and apartments.

Renovated Mill today river side.
Many feel that the 1907 fire is the reason for this activity, which probably accounts for some of the activity but the various eyewitness accounts seem to point to the building having a portal that allows a variety of spirits to come and go.

Two common reports are of strange lights being seen in the upper floors of the building when it has been empty. Before the more modern renovations witnesses reported seeing a light on in the basement at a time when the entrances to these rooms were blocked off.

In more recent times many people have reported hearing disembodied voices especially in the two towers that house the stairwells.

One eerie report involves people hearing the old mill’s machinery start up or shut down--many witnesses claim that after a few minutes one very loud machine takes over. These reports are strange considering the fact that there is no longer mill machinery housed in this building.

First Person Account

A wife shares her husband’s unusual encounters in the building.

My husband works as the maintenance manager in the old mill. His first experience happened at 3:00 a.m. He was covering for one of his janitors who was on vacation.

He was on the 3rd floor cleaning a restroom when he became uneasy. He then heard a giggle. Knowing he was the only one in the building his “blood turned cold.” When he stopped and listened the sound stopped but as soon as he moved again he heard more laughter.

This time it was two distinct voices laughing--both sounded like small children. Unnerved he left the area quickly.

Later that morning when sunlight streamed in the windows he returned to the area and noticed two pictures on the wall where he heard the laughter. They were of two teen sisters--dressed in Victorian clothing.

He felt in some way these two had returned as children. *

When the vacationing janitor returned to work her husband asked him if he had ever heard anything. This man smiled and replied, “You mean my girls.” He went on to mention that besides the laughter he often heard doors slam that were already closed.

The building houses an auditorium and this janitor also mentioned that in the mornings he would find the same seats down--despite the fact they were the kind that spring up when no one is sitting in them.

Later her husband covering for other workers also experienced first hand the doors slamming and the same seats being down in the morning.

Office and apartment spaces today.
One night the husband brought his wife with him to the building. It had been raining and he wanted to check for leaks. While on an upper floor the wife veered off to use a restroom. She met her husband in one office lab.

They turned to leave and her husband paused. She followed his gaze to the bottom of the door. They both saw shadows moving outside the door in the gap beneath the door. It wasn’t just one of two shadows but an entire parade of shadows that passed.

When they walked out to look no one was there. They determined no one else was in the building with them. When they checked the parking lot no other cars were there.

* Parapsychologists believe that ghosts can come back at various ages and stages in their lives--from when they were children up through their adult years.

1 comment:

Jen said...

Hello. I'm a paranormal investigator (Fantasma Paranormal). Can anyone tell me where to find the "hotspots" in the Dover Mills? I plan on hitting the two stairwells but would like to investigate more of the building where the public is allowed.

Thank you.