11-16 Poof's column - 1979 II

1979 II

Hello fellow Berlinites. Continuing with my history of Berlin 38 years ago, a headline in the local paper from February 1979 stated that “Revitalization was the key to Berlin’s future.” There was even an architect’s view of Main Street and Bickford Lane showing the revitalized improvements. This all changed though, as a huge fire in the 1990s had its own revitalization plan.

One of Berlin’s most comprehensive improvement plans was presented to the city by the community development department. This plan, which was known as the Downtown Improvement Program, was shown to the City Council on Monday night, Feb. 12, 1979. It was a 60-page report that was given to each council member having had details in word and a drawing about a five-year program that would renew Berlin’s downtown area. The overall goal was to return this city to its former prominence as the retail and service center of the North Country.

This design was divided into four major sections. The report began with the initial identification of Berlin’s problems, progressed to a discussion of the solution and then a final implementation strategy.

Here were the final goals of this program 38 years ago: 1. To provide an attractive retail shopping alternative to area malls and shopping centers. 2. To attract new activities to occupy vacant and underused space. 3. To reestablish this area as a center for downtown residents, visiting shoppers and pedestrians. 4. To unify the architectural appearance of buildings through structural and visual betterment. 5. To stress pedestrian accessibility to stores and related downtown activity areas. 6. To improve traffic flow and develop parking facilities. 7. To create and maintain community-wide involvement and financial support in the revitalization effort.

There were a lot more improvements that were suggested, starting with an imaginary drive up Glen Avenue and onto Main Street, to include a 60-room hotel and more. I guess that some things just didn’t evolve.

Two Boston area ice climbers, David Shoemaker and Paul Flanagan, lost their lives while climbing in Huntington Ravine some time on Friday, Feb. 16, 1979. Rated as very good climbers by the U.S. District Forest Ranger Rick Goodrich, the two men had chosen the severe weather conditions common to Mount Washington as a challenge to their mountaineering skills. They had climbed together for five years, had made numerous ascents in the Mount Washington area and considered the assent of Huntington Ravine as another objective to add to their list of climbing accomplishments. Sadly, it was their last climb. The demise of these two climbers brought the total of Huntington Ravine deaths to 12 from 1959 to 1979.

On Friday, March 2, 1979, at 11:45 a.m., the Granite State division of Converse became a memory after all production operations came to a halt. For the last time, 19 employees who had stayed on to complete packaging of the final shipment of Converse shoes, put on their coats, walked the distance to the time-clock, punched out and left the building.

None of them looked back, as they walked toward the Granite State parking lot. They knew that they would not be returning to work the following Monday, or on any other Monday. They also knew, but did not welcome the reality of that fact at this time.

In April of 1979, a brand new bank was scheduled to be built on Pleasant Street. It was going to be the new home for the Berlin Cooperative Bank. Contract for this new Berlin bank had been signed, sealed and delivered by April 4. Construction of the two-story building was planned to begin right away. This financial institution would replace the old one that stood at 29 Main St., just a short distance before the old Wilson Pharmacy (Office Products), as one came up Main Street. This area is consumed by the Northway Bank today (2017).

Design for the southern half of the 400×200-foot lot, bordered by Cole, York and Pleasant Streets, this brick building would provide the bank’s present staff with an additional 6,000 square feet of space. This modern building, which was designed and eventually built by Richards and Sons Incorporated, offered easy access and President Gerald Martel explained that the construction company had designed two drive-up windows with room for a possible third one in an accessible area.

Also, the plans for the building included a larger area for those who wanted to transact their business inside, ample parking was made available on the northern and southern sides of the structure.

This building was designed in a Colonial Federalist style. Inside, the first floor would provide space for eight teller windows, the bookkeeping department, some offices, a security vault and additional safety deposit boxes.

Upstairs, spacious offices, a lounge area and kitchen circled the balcony overlooking the ground floor, which gave a high-ceiling effect. The two floors were connected by a curving staircase and an elevator. Large doors handsomely designed in glass and wood opened onto Pleasant Street.

The outside grounds of this new bank were to be landscaped with bushes, trees and grass. A skating rink, was also going to be put in place during the winter months. This attractive building would cost $800,000 and be built by late November 1979.

Today (2017), this same building houses Coos County Family Health Services. I do not remember how long it was a bank, but I am sure someone does. So many things change during the course of several years.

During February, City Hall declared Berlin a disaster area in an attempt to enlist state aid in remedying the loss of water to over 85 Berlin properties. The City Council requested state assistance and surplus equipment to be used in thawing out the lines and restoring water supply to these properties. I don’t seem to remember this cold snap, probably because I didn’t lose my water, but those that did probably have a vivid memory of it.

I will continue with a history of Berlin 38 years ago in my next writing.

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Huntington RavineHuntington Ravine

 GS Rubber 1958GS Rubber 1958

Coop BankCoop Bank

Downtown 1Downtown 1

Once Upon a Berlin Time - 1979

Once upon a Berlin Time Poof Tardiff


Hello fellow Berlinites. How the time passes so quickly is amazing. For those who graduated in the year 1979, you are all now about 56 years old and probably can’t remember much of what took place in this time period. With a little research, I will refresh many memories with some of the highlights.

A skiing accident on Wildcat Mountain claimed the life of 17-year-old David Beers. The news of his accident came out in a Jan. 3 local paper and said that the accident had taken place on Dec. 26, 1978.

Beers loss control on the final curve of the Pole Cat Trail, skied out over an embankment and hit headfirst a large rock that was well off the course. It took the search and rescue team about 12 hours to find the young man.

Norman Rheaume of Berlin found the body of Beers. He said that during their second sweep, the rescue was concentrated on the easy slopes, because friends of Beers said that he was a novice skier. The rescuers then spent more time combing the woods along the edges of the easier trails figuring that Beers might have veered off into the woods.

As they were finishing their search at about 3 a.m., on the final curve of the Pole Cat Trail, the brightness from one of their flashlights reflected off Beers’ ski poles. They quickly went to the spot and found the young skier passed away and covered with snow.

At this point in time, Wildcat Mountain was 22 years old, and this was the first fatality that had taken place on its slopes. Today, after 60 years of operation, this great local ski area is still going strong. Sadly, these accidents do occur occasionally.

In the beginning of January 1979, Sen. Laurier Lamontagne, the great fighter for this North Country area, was appointed Senate whip. Lamontagne was also chairman of the Rules and Resolutions Committee, vice chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, a member of the Transportation Committee and chairman for the Council on Aging. Our great state senator was always looking for ways to help the Northern District of New Hampshire and always knew that this area needed better roads to prosper. A section of Route 16 locally is dedicated to this great state senator and former mayor of the city of Berlin.

The headlines in the middle of January 1979 were very bleak for the city of Berlin. It was announced that all operations at the Granite State Division of Converse Rubber Company would cease by March. News of this plant closing came early on Friday, Jan. 19, in an announcement the company made to its employees. The shutdown would put 400 area residents out of work.

According to this statement, the action was taken after the most thorough and painstaking investigation of the alternatives to the company. There were many reactions to the news that Converse was closing and all were very depressing. Most people were not ready to move out of town, but there were no jobs around here for 400 unemployed sneaker manufacturers.

Gov. Hugh Gallen indicated his support for Berlin and his willingness to do all that he could to improve this city’s dire situation. He planned to attend the annual Chamber of Commerce meeting at the New Hampshire Technical College (White Mountains Community College today), in demonstration of his personal concern for Berlin’s future. The governor also said that he would contact the congressional delegation for help and would work with Berlin in upgrading route 110.

Sadly, many families packed up and left Berlin to find jobs in other places. Some people did struggle and stay in their hometown, but Converse was not saved and finally closed its doors. The foundation of this great sneaker factory still sits today on Jericho Road where 1,100 people once made a living here in this city.

During the beginning of January, our famous Mount Jasper was mentioned as a site for archaeological excavation. Because the cave on this mountain is the only prehistoric site of its kind in the entire Northeast and because no archaeology had been carried out in New Hampshire North of the White Mountains, archaeologist Richard Gramly of Harvard University’s Peabody Museum had been busy convincing funding agencies that an intensive excavation of the cave and related sites in the valley below Mount Jasper should be conducted.

Mr. Gramly had conducted earlier minor excavations at Mount Jasper in 1975 and discovered definite proof that prehistoric Indians had mined rhyolite at the cave. He also unearthed a prehistoric worksite near the Dead River where he found 250 finished tools made of different types of stone alien to the area surrounding Berlin. At the time, Gramly suggested that this demonstrated that prehistoric Indians (Native Americans today) who mined the cave, came from distant areas.

Studies that were completed in the past months of 1978, confirmed his belief. They had shown that the stone that was used in the manufacture of these tools came from different places in Maine and Vermont.

Gramly wrote an article for an archaeological journal, explaining the results of his findings to date and saying he hoped that the publication of this piece would help earn him the additional financial support he needed for the project here in Berlin. He had already enlisted a substantial portion of the necessary funding.

Once he got the total financial backing, Gramly presented it to the city manager and city council with a detailed outline of the project’s objectives. He did not want to go in front of them before he had everything worked out and could assure the city that this project would be carried out in the best interests of this municipality and the prehistoric site.

Since the city held the title to the mountain, Gramly had to gain the support of the city council before he could begin excavating. On his visit to New Hampshire on Friday, Jan. 5, 1979, Gramly enlisted the help of a historical society in the southern part of the state and won from the Brown Company the assurance that it would provide some of the materials for this project.

At this point, Gramly was fairly confident that the excavations would become a reality. Only a few more obstacles needed to be overcome. These excavations were done later in 1979 and yielded many artifacts, which may be viewed at the public library here in Berlin. These artifacts are over 7,000 years old. Imagine what it looked like here back then.
I will continue with the year 1979 in my next writing.

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Sen. Maggie Hassan: Get health coverage: How to take advantage of open enrollment

By Sen. Maggie Hassan

There is understandably some confusion about where things stand with the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Despite what you may have heard about what has been happening in Washington, the Affordable Care Act remains the law of the land, and with open enrollment for plans covering 2018 now underway, I want to make sure that everyone has the information and resources they need to get health coverage. For a guide on what you need to know to take advantage of open enrollment, you can also visit my website at Hassan.Senate.Gov/Get-Covered.

From Nov. 1 through Dec. 15, Granite Staters have an opportunity to shop and sign up for a plan on the health insurance marketplace at HealthCare.gov. Coverage obtained on the Health Insurance Marketplace during open enrollment will be effective Jan. 1, 2018.

This open enrollment period is also an important time for people who already have health insurance plans in the marketplace to see what other plans are available, to shop around and see if other plans offer more savings than their current one does. Insurance prices can change, so it pays to shop around.

Granite Staters should also know that financial help may be available to help purchase coverage — in past years, the majority of people purchasing private coverage on New Hampshire’s individual market qualified for financial help to lower their monthly premium costs.

Every citizen deserves quality, affordable health insurance coverage to help live healthy and productive lives. Access to health care is critical to the freedom, dignity and well-being of our citizens; and it also contributes to a productive workforce and a thriving economy. All across New Hampshire, I have heard stories of families who saved hundreds of dollars a month, individuals who were able to get affordable coverage despite what was previously considered a pre-existing condition and entrepreneurs who were able to take the risk of starting up a business because of the coverage they got through HealthCare.gov.

That is why I have fought so hard to protect health care coverage for Granite Staters, as some of my colleagues attempted to pass Trumpcare legislation that would have stripped coverage away and led to higher health care costs for worse care.

It is also why I am speaking out as open enrollment begins to ensure that all Granite Staters take advantage of this opportunity to sign up for a health care plan.

Despite the Trump Administration’s continued efforts to sabotage our nation’s health care system, the health insurance marketplace is open for business. This is a critical time to educate our friends and neighbors about the options that are available to them on HealthCare.gov.

This administration’s sabotage attempts include slashing the Affordable Care Act’s outreach and advertising budgets ahead of open enrollment — outreach and advertising that provide key information and resources for those who need to sign up for care.

Unfortunately, the Administration’s efforts to sabotage health insurance markets have resulted in significantly increased premiums for the people who don’t qualify for subsidies. I’ve cosponsored bipartisan legislation that would help undo President Trump’s damage and stabilize the health insurance market and prices. The legislation also includes a special provision that would make it easier for New Hampshire to take its own steps to address health insurance costs. Because it is cosponsored by 12 Democrats and 12 Republicans, it is clear that this legislation has the votes to pass, and we need Republican leadership to bring it up for a vote.

The Trump Administration’s sabotage makes it obvious that it doesn’t want people to know that they can enroll for coverage, but that doesn’t change the fact that the Affordable Care Act is the law of the land, people can still get covered, and financial assistance is available for many on the health insurance marketplace. The administration must end this sabotage and we all should continue to work together on efforts to lower costs and build on and improve the Affordable Care Act. That’s exactly what I am focused on as a member of the Senate health committee.

I will continue working to lower health care costs to ensure that health care is truly available and affordable to all of our people, and encourage citizens in New Hampshire and across the country to sign up for the care that they need to help their families thrive.

The open enrollment period is a critical time for the health and well-being of our citizens, and for the productivity of our state and country. I encourage Granite Staters to take advantage of this opportunity and receive the benefits that come with affordable health care.


Poof -11/2/17- The Great Paper Mill III

Hello fellow Berlinites. I would like to finish the story of one of the greatest construction undertakings in this area, the Cascade Mill.

Scattered about the vicinity of the plant were huts of the Italian workmen, many of them curious works in the line of economy material. Yet, this was the temporary abode of the colony that dug and carried much of the material used in laying the foundations of this entire structure. Above the mills stood the Blodgett House, which was obliterated, as it was within the area to be flooded when the gates of the dam were closed.

Going down river a few miles to the third and by no means least of the extensive industrial systems was the lower dam. This dam was a concrete wall 300 feet in length, affording a 25-foot head when it was completed. By December of 1903, the gatehouse and a larger part of the dam were in place.

Leading from this dam on the eastern side of the river was a wide and deep canal 3,800 feet long. This canal can still be seen today, 2017. The passageway itself was unfinished and work was suspended until the spring of 1904. At the foot of this canal was a power house and the dam at the head of it held back sufficient water to give 3,000 hp, which was transmitted up river to the mills.

At this latter place, the main highway had been again altered, and in its place was the western end of the new dam. The new road, with electric car road, led over the hill and again came into the old road near what was then called the Peabody house.

This completed a survey of the new constructions that had been taking place during the past few months. Of those who were active as superintendents on this mammoth enterprise, a few words may not be out of place. The engineers of this work were well known here. The chief engineer was George Ferguson, the general superintendent of these plans. Another was George Lovett, upon whom fell the task of attending to the work in detail on the upper plants. His work of looking after the execution of the plans kept him hustling since the beginning of this project. He had assistance during the summer when the largest crews were employed, but not much of the work was his personally.

The engineering work of the lower dam was attended to by Mr. Doring, of the firm of Greenleaf and Doring, well-known contractors of Lewiston, Maine. The contract for the excavations was given to Ward Brothers of Biddeford, Maine, and Edward Ward of this firm personally superintended the work, which was completed in June of 1903. Since that time, he was employed by the Berlin Mills Company to superintend the construction work for which his long experience, in many places, in the construction of various plants had well fitted him. Work on the foundations of the main mills began on May 28, 1903, and the work was completed by March 1, 1904.

The steel work was done by Cambria Steel Company of Jamestown, Va., which sublet the work to Eastern Bridge Company of Worcester, Mass. C. T. Wright was the superintendent for this company in the work here and had nearly completed his labors on the two upper plants. The steel work on the main mill was completed and the crews were at work on the grinding mill at the upper dam in late 1903. The steel work at the powerhouse at the lower dam had not yet begun.

Now here is what was said about the material effect of this new plant upon our city. Since the first clearing was started, workmen from this city had been employed, and since early when large crews would be used advantageously, about 250 men found work here constantly.

In addition to these, about 50 teams had been used and the revenue thus coming into the city had been no small item, as many of the merchants agreed. In the work of excavation, Ward Brothers employed about 400 Italian laborers and most of these had been continued on to other work. The article said there were about 275 of these “Sons of Italy” doing manual labor on the works.

When completed, the mills would give employment to about 500 men. Of these, quite a percentage would be of the skilled class and would add a perceptible increase to the population of Berlin.

It was the present plan to have the mills so far advanced that they would be producing paper in April of 1904. In order to do this, one of the wheels in the main mill would be used for the generation of electricity and only a part of the mill would be in operation.

The entire plant was to be completed by August 1904 unless unforeseen difficulties arose. The company was now busy cutting a supply of raw material in its forest tracts to be used at these mills. A considerable quantity was being cut in Jericho and it would be brought down the Dead River and then to the mills via the Androscoggin River come spring of 1904.

The Berlin Mills Company (Brown Company) also anticipated the desire of prospective employees for comfortable and commodious homes, conveniently situated near the mills during the summer of 1904. Mr. G. P. Bickford (Bickford Lane), who had charge of this part of the plan, opened up for sale lots of the tract of land located on the west side of the Grand Trunk Railroad (Cascade Hill), which was then known as “Woodland Park.”

This spot was accessed by a highway that wound up the steep hill from the main road and crossed the railroad by an overhead bridge. The location itself was very desirable, being a short walk to the trolley line and the mills, yet affording a degree of retirement because of its higher situation and the intervening growth of trees. Besides the houses that were built by private purchases on these lots, the company erected several houses of its own, with the idea of selling them to future workmen who desired homes ready for occupancy.

Now, the Mason Land Company, though not as early in putting in its territory on the market as Bickford, opened up a parcel known as the Tinker Brook Park (Cascade Flats), named after the brook which still runs through here. This area had a quantity of excellent lots, favorably located and ready for sale. It was not improbable that they too, would soon erect homes on these lots and there was every prospect that a village would soon be underway in what was but woods and bushes in 1902.

Finally, the enterprising Berlin Mills Company had already done so much for the city of Berlin, and this latest move was just more evidence of its interest in the locality and of its enterprise in the business world. To the company, the village of Berlin Mills chiefly owed its existence and maintenance today (1903), while other parts of the city had felt the advantages from arising new mills, which was evidenced by the recent development up to now of unused real estate and the recent openings of new places of business.

The members of this company had already shown a warm interest in the city’s welfare and the present manager, Ortin B. Brown, whose residence was in Berlin, had for a long time been closely identified with the city’s interest, and for the past two years, also participated in the conduct of the school department, namely the school board.

Upon Mr. Brown fell the major portion of the work of launching the new industrial system and he personally superintended much of the activity on this construction. It was now (1903) safe to say that he had upon his hands one of the most significant commercial enterprise problems recently attempted by any businessman in the Granite State, as well as one of the largest.

When the Cascade Paper Mill was built, it was not only the finest paper mill in existence, but also the largest self-contained unit making both the raw pulps and the finished product at one plant. What a boon it was to the Berlin-Gorham area back then.

Questions or comments email <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>. Also, join the many fans of “Once upon a Berlin Time” on Facebook and guess at the previously posted weekly mystery pictures.

10 31 17 Poof Cascade Mill 1Cascade Mill 1



10 31 17 Poof Blodgett House CascadeBlodgett House Cascade




10 31 17 Poof Ortin B. BrownOrtin B. Brown


10 31 17 Poof G.P. BickfordG.P. Bickford


10-26-17 Poof The Great Paper Mill II


Hello fellow Berlinites. Continuing with the immense development by the Berlin Mills Company between Berlin and Gorham, after the first dam and then the railroad trestle, we came to the main plant, which was considered a mammoth structure of its kind.

It is situated on the western bank of the river on a comparatively level strip of the valley, which is wider at this point than further up. The sharp descent afforded the immense power that was being harnessed and the location offered many features that would aid in placement of the dam.

The point of land extending from the eastern shore and the large ledge at about the middle of the old channel afforded a good foundation upon which to rest the main dam and these were both utilized. The ledges that were formerly the chief features of the landscape were made over and distributed at various points in and around the buildings.

The dam itself, which was the first point of interest, was a high wall of concrete through which the water was now pouring by means of openings left for this purpose. In shape it is circular with the outer or longer surface facing up stream.

Its eastern end was founded on the point of land and culminated in an immense block of concrete. The center rests on the ledge mentioned above and its western termination was a gatehouse and gates, 13 in number. The gatehouse reached to a convenient knoll thus tying together in one, all three natural points of anchorage.

The dam is of different heights at different points, varying from 25 to 58 feet. It is 316 feet long and as it stood gave 8,000 horsepower. It was also arranged that, if at some time in the future, more power was required an addition may be readily made and power increased. This dam was created on Dec. 5, 1903.

Below the dam is an enclosure of some 3 acres surrounded by a concrete wall on the riverside, the gates at the head of the pent-stocks and the wall of the middle on the southern side, the wall of the boiler on the western side, and the gates of the dam on the northern side. This bay is fed from the gates of the dam and in turn supplied water to the wheels of the mill.

On the western side of the bay mentioned above, stands the boiler house. This is a commodious brick building with room for nine boilers, which would furnish 5,000 hp. By December of 1903, one of these was already in place and in operation. It was used to heat some of the rooms where work was taking place back then during the cold months.

There were six pent-stocks, which were situated on the north side of the building below the bay and their wheels would be put into position at this time. To start with, only four wheels were installed. One was already in place and the others were put in when it was convenient.

Beyond these buildings were the grinder and wood rooms. The former was 126×170 feet and the latter 106×170 feet. Both of these had commodious basements with tanks and other paraphernalia for the work carried on here.

The sulphite room was situated on the east side of the screen room and was the highest of the buildings. It had a capacity of 80 to 125 tons per day. I am sure that some of these places still exist, but no longer are operational. Someone who works all over this mill today could probably tell me.

The digester house was 40×84 feet and 100 feet high, and in addition to this there were four blow pits 68×84 feet. The screen rooms had three floors including a basement and were next in order. It afforded ample room for the disposing of the work to be done in this department.

Next to the screen room was the beater room and this was a grand and roomy area 72×155 feet. Like the screen room, it had three floors including the basement where the engines were located as well as the pumps for pumping the material into the machines above.

The machine room joined the beater room on the south and was the grand center of the plant. The surface here is 150×240 feet, the floor being in the hands of the concrete and mason people by December 1903. The floor was soon to be completed and then the machines put into place at once, as one was being put in during the end of 1903.

This room accommodated four machines each having a capacity of 32 tons of paper per day making the total production of the paper plant about 140 tons daily. These machines were of the Halley and Sewell type made in Watertown, New York.

Beyond the machine room came the finishing room, which measured 124×146 feet. Here, the product would be prepared for the market and the floor space afforded ample room for the work. This room was yet to be completed, but by the end of winter 1904 was ready for service.

On the far side of the finishing room was the storage room and this space was 124×145 feet. It was used for storing such stock as was made and not shipped immediately. Beyond the storage room was the repair shop, 121×124 feet. In this room, the carpenters were now at work using it as a workshop. By the end of December 1903, a considerable amount of machinery had already been installed and employed by the workmen.

In the southwest corner of this building was situated the main office of the mill. This room was about 30×124 feet. The superintendent’s office was also connected to this making everything convenient and well located.

This was the completion of the interior of the main mills and the outside presented little beyond what was seen about other similar plants. The large brick buildings with their steel skeletons gave the observer an impression of stability and power, which would only be more realized a few months later when the wheels began their ceaseless work and the great machines emitted the compact rolls of paper adding so much more to Berlin’s reputation as a “Paper City.”

Perhaps the most conspicuous feature of the exterior of this plant was the chimney, which towered from the roof of the boiler house. This was built during the summer of 1903 under the supervision of H. C. Rowell, who had meritoriously won a wide reputation along this line of work. This monument of brick, which is still there today (2017), stands 233 feet high above the ground with a diameter of 19 and one half feet at the base and 10 feet at the bottom. I wonder if there are any machines in this mill that were there from its inception? I do not know the answer to this question.

I will finish the story of this great undertaking 114 years ago in my next week’s writing.

Questions or comments email <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>. Also, join the many fans of “Once upon a Berlin Time” on Facebook and guess at the previously posted mystery pictures.


10 26 17 Cascade Mill 2017Cascade Mill 2017


10 26 17 Cascade Mill siteCascade Mill site


10 26 17 Cascade Mill BridgeCascade Mill Bridge

10 26 17 Cascade 1927Cascade 1927