The Mayall Mills, 1791-1902

Beginning a mill in 1791 along Collyer Brook in what is now Gray, Maine, Samuel Mayall's operation became the first successful water-powered woolen mill in North America. Establishing the mills in Gray was not easy. Woolen interests in England had prohibited the production of goods in the colonies and worked diligently to prevent British wool-making technology from being put to use in competition with them. Realizing this, Mayall smuggled plans for his machinery out of England hidden in bales of cloth meant for trade with Indians. When British woolen guilds learned of his deception, they tried at least twice to kill him. Once they sent him a hat in which they had hidden pins laced with poison and another time a box with loaded pistols rigged to fire when the box was opened. Suspicious of both packages, Mayall managed to avoid the untimely death his enemies had planned for him.

In time, the original single wooden structure grew into a sprawling mill complex, featuring two large buildings known as the Lower Mill and the Upper Mill, each powered by the water of Collyer Brook.