TURNERS FALLS, Mass. (WWLP) – A fire at an old landmark building that was once home to Railroad Salvage in the Franklin County village of Turners Falls. Smoke filled the skyline of Turners Falls Saturday afternoon.
Firefighters were called to the empty mill on Power Street just before 2 o’clock in the morning. The building, which most recently housed a discount retail store, sits in the Patch neighborhood of the village between a canal and the Connecticut River. Fire departments from several surrounding towns were called in to help put out the flames.
Amidst the smoke, rubble and debris lay a lot of memories within this old 19th century brick building. For the past 20 years the building has been in decay. And while there have been ideas to do something with the property, nothing ever came to fruition.
The building started as the Griswold Cotton Mill in 1879, changing hands over the years but provided textile jobs to many people in the town.
In the 1950’s the building was converted for retail use as the Rockdale Store. Railroad Salvage was a discount retail store opened by Rubie Vine in 1973. You could find products that may have been in a train wreck or someplace that may have just gone out of business.
Charlie Smith, of Greenfield told 22News, “I remember when I was a kid they had a bin of Converse All Stars and it was like there were some that were covered in mud, some that weren’t matching. So you would have to pick through this huge bin and this pile with different colored sneakers and then tie them together and try to get a pair and it was next to impossible.”
Railroad Salvage closed in 1994, and the property had several different owners since.
Maggie Sadoway, of Turners Falls said, “I love taking pictures of abandoned buildings, and it was a nice place to walk and I’m sorry that it’s gone.”
Chief John Zellmann, Turners Falls Fire Dept. said, “You never want to see a fire in the first place, but it’s long overdue to be taken down.”
No firefighters were hurt. The State Fire Marshal’s Office is helping to try and determine the cause of the fire.