The Lowell Area Historical Museum is offering a weekly feature to explore local history. The ABCs of Lowell History continues with a look at two dairies that used to provide daily deliveries within the city. To learn more about Lowell history, visit the museum website to explore its collection of local artifacts and records.
Lowell has had many dairies over the years. Dairy operators delivered milk to customer’s home fresh every day or two. During this time of renewed home delivery of groceries this article looks back at Highland Hill and Downtown Dairies.
HIGHLAND HILL DAIRY
Highland Hill Dairy was located at 1115 East Main Street at Lowell’s eastern edge on top of the hill. Neil Cameron purchased the land around 1908 from N. B. Blaine who had lived there the previous 52 years. Cameron came to Lowell in 1898 from Ontario, Canada. He worked as a saw man at the Lowell Cutter Company for 16 years, beginning his dairy operation about 1910. In 1914, Cameron retired from the Cutter Factory to operate a retail dairy business full time.
Arie Leeman came to Lowell in 1929 and applied for a job at Highland Hill in response to a newspaper ad. He started work immediately. At that time, there were five dairies serving Lowell – Highland Hill, Melody Farms, Ryder’s, Fuss’, and Speerstra’s.
Neil Cameron died in 1934 and Arie bought the operation in 1945. Until the early 1950’s, the staff milked their own cows and did their own processing. Arie delivered milk to homes every other day. Calendars were printed with red and blue days. Some customers received their milk on red days and some on blue days. He had route books labeled West Side and East Side. He delivered to the West Side one day and East Side the next. Customers put their empty milk bottles on the porch and dropped order tickets into one of the empties so Arie would know what kind and how many bottles of milk to leave that day. (Each quart of milk had about 1/2 of a cup of cream on top because it was not homogenized at that time.) Arie often let neighborhood kids ride the milk route with him. Arie Leeman retired April 1, 1977 marking the end of home milk deliveries in this area.
Downtown Dairy was owned by the Winton Wilcox family. They kept good Guernsey cows while they were in the dairy business. Downtown Dairy was first located on Riverside Drive at the back of where Springrove Variety is. Downtown Dairy later moved its location to West Main Street to the building next to the Strand Theater. The milk cans were brought into the back along the driveway next to the Strand.
Featured image courtesy of the Lowell Area Historical Museum.