CP/CMQ: Pleasant River Lumber Puts $25M into Maine Operations

30.April, Dover-Foxcroft ME – A strong lumber market is leading Pleasant River Lumber Co. to invest $25 million over the next three years in four Maine facilities. When completed, the projects will enhance PRL’s production capacity to ~400 million board feet through its five Maine mills.

Rail has traditionally been a vital transportation component for the company, and will likely be included in the expansion at some of the sites.

Pleasant River Lumber locations
Pleasant River Lumber produces dimensional softwood lumber at five locations in Maine: Together, the Dover-Foxcroft, Jackman, and Enfield mills combined produce 300 million bd-ft annually of Spruce-Fir framing lumber SPF. The Hancock and Sanford mills currently produce 30 million bd-ft of White Pine. Three locations receive rail service either on-site or via local transload, Jackman is served by CP/CMQ via short drayage; Enfield borders PAR on the Mattawamkeag stretch; Sanford is served by PAR via drayage in nearby Wells. Once the plant upgrades are complete, PRL’s production capacity will reach 400 million bd-ft. The Enfield plant will account for 150 million bd-ft of that.

Jackman: $6 million to increase throughput

The company will sink $6 million into its Jackman facility to increase mill throughput by 20%. The project will be completed in two separate phases. Phase 1 will improve the flow of logs into the mill, and is scheduled for completion this coming Fall.

The plant is located on the CP/CMQ(US) Moosehead Subdivision, and has long relied on rail to receive logs. However, the site got a shock last Fall, when, upon taking control of CMQ, CP took 200 BAR-era log cars out of service and scrapped them. Those cars primarily served PRL-Jackman. PRL acquired substantial truck capacity to fill the gap. It is currently unclear how the Phase 1 upgrades will be divided between road and rail service.

Dover-Foxcroft: $1.5 million to increase shaping

The Dover-Foxcroft ME facility will invest $1.5 million to upgrade its planer mill, which will increase planing capacity to >180 million bd-ft annually.

The D-F facility is not directly rail served, but is close to the CMQ route through Derby ME.  For years, rumors have flown of restoring the former Bangor & Aroostook (BAR) branch an industrial track, though there have never been substantial signs of serious plans to that end.

Enfield: $10 million more for new mega-mill

PRL’s newest facility in Enfield ME began producing lumber in late 2020, and will continue to expand with $10 million earmarked for a tree-length slashing system to be operational by mid-2021, a state-of-the-art lumber drying facility in service by late 2021 and a second sawing line by early 2023. These projects will increase the capacity of the Enfield site to 150 million bd-ft (finished) annually, eclipsing all current Maine lumber mills.

That capacity would likely require adding a siding and spurs off of the PAR Freight Main Line, which borders the site to the east.

Hancock: $7.5 million for pine production

Pleasant River Pine, PRL’s white pine division will invest $7.5 million to increase sawing capacity by five million bd-ft, and to add a state-of-the-art planing mill with optimized grading.

Jacon Brochu, company co-president, says, “Strong markets have put us in a good position to continue to modernize and expand our mills … to provide local markets for [Maine] forest products,” says co-president, Chris Brochu.