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Powder Mills Park


Daniel Curtis Rand came from New England in the 1863. He settled in Pittsford and opened the powder mill where he manufactured blasting powder used in western New York stone quarries and the coal mines in northern Pennsylvania. Gun powder, which played an important part in the Civil War, was also manufactured at the powder mills. A native of New Hampshire, Rand had learned the business in a plant in Middleton, Conn. owned by his sister, Lucia Rand.

Ready to open his own business, Rand traveled to western NY. One evening he met Mortimer Wadhams who operated a grist mill at Railroad Mills. Rand knew exactly what the site of the business should contain. It must have water, shipping facilities must be readily available, and most importantly, it must be secluded because of potential accidents and explosions. He wanted some hills, too, and when he came upon that section of Irondequoit creek, not far from Wadhams mill, his search ended.

Wadhams joined Rand and the business became known as Rand and Wadhams Manufacturing of Mining, Blasting and Sporting Powder. It remained so until 1900 when it was renamed the D.C. Rand Powder Co.

Daniel had learned much about the dangers of explosions at the Middleton plant, and his plan was to build several mills, one for each step in the process, a good distance from each other. Wooden pegs were used in the construction to lessen the chance of sparks which might ignite dangerous explosives. A little wooden railroad connected the buildings and wooden wheels were used on the flat car which carried materials from one building to another.

A machine shop was built high on a hill to keep the forge far away from the explosives. It was here, also, that Daniel built his homestead for his bride – the daughter of his partner – Stella Wadhams. The couple had four sons, C. Mortimer, Robert, Samuel, and Phillip. There were three daughters, Lucia, Lucy, and Stella.

Daniel died when his son, Phillip was 14. Phillip and his mother took over the business which continued to operate until about 1910 after a series of unfortunate explosions. The home place of the Rands was called "Oakridge". The powder mill property was sold to Monroe County about 1930 for the development of a county park. The homestead was torn down about that time.

On December 27, 1887, at 6:30 o'clock in the morning, the Rand & Co. powder mill exploded, but the workmen being at their breakfast and not about the plant escaped injury.

Contemporary newspaper accounts of the event related that the shock was felt as far away as Honeoye Lake and at Canandaigua Lake, and at Avon – the noise being noted as well as the tremor. The gatekeeper at Hemlock Lake, attending the Rochester Water Works installations, telephoned to Rochester to inquire as to what had happened.