RARE stock certificate #6 issued to Hiram Ricker from the Ricker Hotel Company
issued in 1926. This historic document has an
ornate border around it. This item is hand signed by the Company's Vice President ( A. R. Ricker ) and Treasurer ( C. W. Ricker ) and is over 89 years old.
Letter attached to back of certificate
Poland Spring is a brand of bottled water manufactured in Poland, Maine. It is a subsidiary of Nestlé and sold in the United States. The spring was founded in 1845 by Hiram Ricker in the town of Alfred, Maine.
Mount Kineo first opened as a tavern in 1847 and it had evolved by 1882 into one of the largest hotels in America, accommodating 500 guests.
In 1859, Hiram Ricker built a crude log spring house over a water source, and made his first commercial sale of a container of the water, a 3-gallon demijohn he put on the Portland stage for 15 cents. Subsequently a father brought his supposedly incurably ill daughter to drink from the spring. Twelve-year-old E.P. Ricker brought her a 3-quart pail of mineral water direct from the spring, and the following day she was well enough to return to Portland. Dr. Elephelet Clark continued having her drink water from the Poland Spring, and the girl was to live more than 40 years longer. The doctor became convinced of the mineral water's medicinal value. In 1860, Hiram set up resident sales agents in Boston, and as the fame of Poland Spring water spread, orders came from as far away as the South and the Pacific Coast.
In two years, sales increased to 1,000 barrels. Hiram turned the property over to his eldest son, Edward P. Ricker, then 22, in 1869, and the latter immediately began to develop it. Many people came to the spring itself for a cure, and in 1869-1870, the Rickers had to enlarge the old inn, adding another nine-room story to the building. In 1870, they shipped 5,000 barrels of Poland Water. Originally the Rickers had dipped water from a 5- or 6-quart basin carved out of the rock. In 1872, they enlarged the stone basin to a 30-gallon capacity and bailed water out with a pail. In 1872, increasing patronage forced them to demolish the woodshed and cider house behind the old inn and build a seven-room addition to the building in their place. The inn came to be called the Mansion House.
Alvan Ricker, the second son, joined the firm in 1875, and in 1876 a man named Albert Young, of Auburn, became a partner. The firm built at the crest of the hill a large four-story frame hotel called the Poland Spring House, which featured a six-story tower at one corner. The building extended 200 feet wide across the front and had 100 rooms. It superseded the old Mansion House, but the latter continued to operate as an economy hotel compared with the elegant, first-class Poland House. Hiram Wentworth Ricker, a third son, joined the firm in 1880, and in 1881 the Rickers bought out Young, established the firm of Hiram Ricker and Sons, Inc., and spent $20,000 improving both the interior and the exterior of the posh Poland House. Within 3 more years receipts had doubled, and sale of spring water increased about a thousand barrels per year, grossing $3,000 in 1883. In 1883 and 1884 the Rickers enlarged the Poland House by 64 rooms and a music hall, and the Mansion House to a total of 66 rooms. ln 1887, they built an annex to the Poland Spring House featuring a billiard hall and another 24 rooms, made other miscellaneous improvements, and enlarged the stable built in 1825. In 1889 the company added yet another 50 guest rooms to the Poland House, again remodeled the rest of the building, and relandscaped the grounds.
The year 1893 proved a banner year for the Ricker firm--for Poland Water won the Grand Prize for mineral waters at the Columbian Exposition in Chicago, and in Poland, Maine, the firm added a south wing to the Poland House featuring 20 bathroom suites. In 1894, the firm built a southwest wing that included a photographic studio and darkrooms available to guests who were amateur photographers. More notable, that year the company purchased the Maine State Building from the Chicago Fair for $30,000 and paid $3,000 to have it disassembled, loaded, and moved by a 16-car train to Poland, Maine. There workmen reassembled it in front of an oak grove beside the hotel to serve as a library, museum, and art gallery, where it still stood in 1988.
On August 21, 1894, the stable burned to the ground, killing 27 horses and destroying all the harness, robes, coach equipment, and other tack. The Ricker firm scraped together enough equipment to haul 70 people the next day, and in four days had replaced all the horses and equipment lost in the disastrous fire. In 1894 and 1895, the Rickers erected over the site of the burned stable a 152-foot-wide new stable with two wings, a steel roof, and a carriage house with sleeping rooms above.
By the end of the century, the Rickers had added a nine-hole golf course, later extended to 18 holes. Devotees of tennis found a tennis court on which to play. The hotel added one of the first automatic sprinkler systems in a New England summer resort. Soon it featured telephones in every room. Some rooms had bathtubs with three faucets: hot water, cold water, and Poland Spring mineral water, for those who wished to bathe in it. A firing range accommodated guests who liked to shoot. A 500-acre farm and a 125-acre kitchen garden supplied produce to the hotel. Peas alone occupied 5 acres, and the farm and garden also had 3,000 tomato plants and grew cucumbers, cabbage, beets, lettuce, Swiss chard, and radishes by the ton. A hotel dairy farm kept 100 milk cows as well as other herds. Additionally, the hotel purchased produce from Shaker farms in the vicinity. The Shakers kept Rhode Island Red hens, which supplied eggs and poultry, and they also raised 250 hogs for the hotel. At the resort itself, meanwhile, Hiram Ricker and Sons further enlarged the Mansion House and added a bathhouse. In 1912, a stone All-Souls Chapel was erected near the Maine State Building. The resort continued to prosper in the Edwardian Age in America as it had in the Victorian.
Poland Spring and its bottling facilities had experienced a parallel development. In 1862, the Rickers demolished the original log springhouse built in 1859 and replaced it with a larger frame structure. That lasted until 1876 or 1877, when it was necessary to build a special building to house the filling of barrels. This new structure measured 30 by 60 feet and was designed so that water ran directly into the barrel being filled. Soon the firm had to add a cooperage to manufacture barrels, since by 1880 it was selling 5,000 barrels of Poland Water annually. In 1882, the firm enlarged both of the buildings at the spring. In 1883 the firm opened a New York City outlet. By 1885 demand for Poland Water had so increased and technology so advanced that bottling had largely taken the place of barreling, and the firm again enlarged the barreling house and added machinery for bottling and packaging.
A major overhaul of the process for packaging Poland Water took place in 1906 and 1907 when the firm erected a new springhouse and bottling plant. The springhouse, of Spanish design, featured interior walls and columns in Italian Pavonazzo marble and mosaic floors. The company encased the original spring itself in Carrara marble and plate glass with a solid bronze grille. Silver and glass pipes carried the water from the spring into highly polished granite tanks sealed with plate glass. The springhouse featured filtered air.
Near the springhouse was a large building that contained the bottling and labeling and packaging rooms, connected by a conveyor belt. The company bottled Poland Water in bottles reminiscent of those used for champagne, featuring mainly green labels, stopped with branded corks and sealed with a paper tape. Encased in boxes, the Poland Water went into a large storehouse.
Two railroads served the vicinity of Poland Spring by that time, the Maine Central at Danville Junction and the Grand Trunk at Lewiston Junction. Carriages from the hotel met guests, generally at Danville Junction, for the 5-mile ride to the Poland Spring House, or at Lewiston Junction if they came in on the Grand Trunk from northern Vermont or New Hampshire or Canada. Drayage wagons, meanwhile, hauled the barrels and later, boxes of bottles of Poland Water from the warehouse near the spring to Danville Junction for shipment to market. The one further step of modernization was to build a branch railroad from the bottling plant to one of the railroads, but in the majority of promotional literature on the history of the Poland Spring Resort and of Poland Water, this aspect of the operation has been largely ignored. Even the date of construction remains a puzzle. It seems likely that a railroad, whose unknown length has been speculated as ranging from 3 to perhaps 7 miles, was constructed as part of the 1906-1907 modernization of the bottling, packaging, and shipping plant at Poland Spring, in which case the company must have rented or leased a locomotive from the Maine Central or some other nearby railroad. Or the firm may have built the railroad as late as 1910, when the company purchased its first locomotive.
In Maine, the Poland Spring Resort fell on hard times during the Depression. In 1938, Hiram Ricker and Sons, Inc., sold the hotel business to a consortium that included a man named George W. Lane associated with American Firearms, Daniel Needham of Boston, and the Babbitt Steam Supply Company of New Bedford. The resort struggled on. In 1962 a man named Sol Feldman of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, bought the hotels. He donated the Maine State Building and the All Souls Chapel to the Poland Preservation Society in 1976. In 1966 he leased the Poland Spring House and some of the other buildings to the federal government, which contracted with the Avco Corporation to rehabilitate them for use as a Job Corps training center. On July 4, 1975, the Poland Spring House caught fire and burned to the ground. The Mansion House was gutted by fire in 1978, and the ruins then demolished.
Poland Water continued to be a popular mineral water, especially in the eastern part of the United States, and Hiram Ricker and Sons continued to bottle and ship it. In 1973, the Perrier Company bought the spring and the bottling plant and in 1977 sold it to a son-in-law of the firm's owner, Paul de Haeue. As of 1988, the bottling plant still bottled and shipped Poland Water, which at that time ranked fifth in mineral water sales in the United States.
History from the National Park Service Website
Mt. Kineo, midway of Moosehead Lake, which is forty miles in
length and the largest lake wholly within New England. Kineo is
a peninsular of land extending from the easterly shore into the lake,
containing eleven hun-
dred and fifty acres.
Upon it is a mountain that rises seven hundred feet above the lake level.
It is composed of a peculiar geological formation
of flint rock known as
silicious slate or bornstone. It is the largest mass of this rock
known in this country and was well adapted to the use of the
Indians in making arrowheads, hatchets, chisels, etc. As Indian
implements made from this rock have been found in all parts of
New England and even farther to the southward, it is evident that
the red-men visited this mountain for centuries for the purpose of
obtaining this material.
Kineo is in the heart of an immense primeval wilderness that
is unbroken to the Dominion of Canada. In 1846 when Henry D. Thoreau visited the Moosehead Lake
region, Kineo Mountain, its geological formation, its Indian
relics and its traditions all deeply interested this great author and
A Hotel called the Mount Kineo House was built in 1884, and nestled in the rugged highlands of Maine on the shores of the mighty Moosehead Lake. Following the purchase of the hotel by the Maine Central Railroad in 1911, the Hiram Ricker Hotel Company was engaged to operate the hotel.
The following is from a promotional pamphlet for the Mount Kineo House printed in 1889:
"The Mount Kineo House stands on the border of the lake just south of the mountain, a site which commands an unequalled view of the lake for nearly twenty miles, and of the surrounding forests and moutains in all directions."
(Pamphlet, Mount Kineo House, 1889)
"This hotel is planned on an ample scale and believed to be second to none in construction, general arrangement and convenience, as well as in its provision for the security and comfort of its guests. The dining room is 100 x 51 feet, seating four hundred people. Particular attention has been paid to the sanitary arrangements and drainage. The sleeping rooms are large, light, all provided with the best of mattresses and springs, and reached by broad stairways or steam elevator. Every room commands an excellent view of lake and mountain scenery. A piazza fifteen feet wide extends around the main house."
(Pamphlet, Mount Kineo House, 1889)
"Billiard hall, telegraph and post office in the house. The location on a point extending into the lake insures freedom from mosquitos and other annoying insects. The fact that the house is under the same management as for more than twenty years past, is, to our old patrons, a sufficient guaranty the the table and service generally will be of the the best."
(Pamphlet, Mount Kineo House, 1889)
Kineo is now owned by the Ricker Hotel Company and its
affairs are under the control of Edward P. Ricker, who with his
brother, Hiram Ricker, made a world-wide fame for Poland
Springs. Mr. Ricker is recognized in financial circles as one of the
most successful and farseeing business men in New England. The
State of Maine owes much to his efforts as a financier and publicist.
With the Ricker management as the directing force, and the
Kineo hotels superintended by that popular and efficient manager,
Colonel Charles A. Judkins, its future, full of brighter days,
greater progress and more complete success, seems assured.
The history of the summer resort industry in Switzerland is
food for encouraging thought regarding its further expansion in
Maine. In this little republic of Switzerland less than one-half
the area of Maine, One hundred and fifty million dollars has been
invested in hotels during the past fifty years, sixty millions of
which has been invested during the last eighteen years, and the
official reports of their government show that forty million dollars
are left among their frugal inhabitants each year by the tourists.
History from the National Park Service.