Poof Tardiff: 1949 XI

Hello fellow Berlinites. This year had so much news and history that I had to refresh my self on the Roman Numerals that I use after the number ten. This I owe to my grammar school teachers of the mid 1950s. I solved it and this will be my last story about the year 1949 in Berlin. I also found other material in this year that I will share with my readers in later stories. Much local history was printed back then and I tried to save what I thought would be of interest.

In a response to the editorial that blasted our local Chamber of Commerce, Alf Halvorson had an answer. He felt that this reply should be in fairness to the many people who had so generously and willingly given their time and effort in the great endeavor of trying to interest new industries to locate in our beloved city of Berlin.

The burden which most chambers must undertake has never rested on the shoulders of one person. The accomplishments which had been made up to this date, could never have been realized if it were not for the splendid cooperation and interest of the members of the Chamber of Commerce, Berlin Industrial Realty Company, Brown Company, Ware Knitters Incorporated, Granite State Rubber Company, City Council and Public Service.

The list of people trying to sell our city to other manufacturers was long and it would take up quite a few lines in this story. When there was evidence that progress was being made, often the road proved long and rocky. As we still know to this date in 2017, industries are not banging on the doors of Pinkham Notch to come and establish themselves here.

The editorial criticized every “bite” that the Chamber got and there were two ways to look at it. If the efforts were not made known, the community had the opinion that everything was at a standstill and nothing was being done to get business here. When we did announce the interest of the company and for some reason, it didn't come here, the people became discouraged.

Halvorson, who was the president of the Chamber of Commerce in 1949, wanted to thank everyone in any way who had helped in trying to influence new businesses to locate in our city. Sadly, the drum beats on to this day.

Many people who lived near the Dead River can remember the filth that ran through it years ago. Well, in December of 1949, Mayor Paul Toussaint reported to the City Council at a meeting that the federal government had appropriated $96,000 to be loaned to New Hampshire communities to clean up their waterways. Although it still took many more years, this river which once received much of Berlin's sewerage, was finally cleaned up.

Lawrence F. Whittemore, the one-time president of the Brown Company, left his job as president of the New Haven Railroad in December of 1949 to become the president of Berlin's mills and the Brown Corporation in LaTuque, Quebec.

In assuming the presidency of the two companies, Whittemore took active direction over one of the largest pulp and paper manufacturing concerns in the Northeast, with holdings of approximately 3,500,000 acres of timber land in the United States and Canada. The mills in Berlin, Gorham and LaTuque, produced the greatest variety of pulp of any company and were also the leader in the industrial paper field.

Whittemore had been actively associated with the Brown Company since 1935, when he became a member of the stockholders committee after the company had reorganized, later becoming a director. Mr. Whittemore knew the paper industry fairly well, as he was associated with lumbering operations in Northern New England for many years. He was generally recognized as an expert in forest management and its byproduct manufacturing field.

This former president of the Brown Company also had a lot to do with the University of New Hampshire, as the Whittemore Center is named after him.

The news in this city's local newspapers on October 27, 1949, was that major repairs were needed for the Mason Street Bridges. The original bridges were built to accommodate the people that used the Boston and Maine Railroad in 1892 -1893 and Berlin's East Side as it grew after these dates. I am sure that it was repaired or rebuilt at some time before the year 1949 came along.

The members of Berlin's City Council considered the possibility of rebuilding the Mason Street Bridges, so that they would be capable of handling vehicles weighing over 15 tons. In the meantime, the repairs necessary to raise the bridges from a load capacity of 10 tons to that of 15 tons had been referred to the finance committee and the city engineer.

The Council carried on a lengthy discussion covering the present condition of bridges, how much the bigger wood trucks weighed and other such matters. It was even suggested by a councilman that a new bridge be built to relieve the heavier loads and to handle excess traffic to the East Side.

The city engineer Paul Anderson explained that although the bridges were only built to carry up to 12 tons, they were good bridges. His opinion was that it would be less expensive to rebuild the bridges to handle heavy loads than it would be to build an entirely new bridge. The councilman responded that rebuilding the present bridges would not take care of the excess traffic.

Councilmen Fortier wanted to to raise the load capacity up to 25 tons and the discussion boiled down to primary and secondary points. The former point was that unless the bridges were repaired immediately, they would not even be able to carry the fire engines safely across, as the engines in 1949 weighed over 10 tons. The latter point was that the rebuilding job that would bring the load capacity to 25 tons would cost a good deal of money and require considerable planning, according to City Engineer Anderson.

Now, the finance committee, the City Engineer and the City Council had to be in on this together or there would have be two separate jobs. In the meantime, loads over 10 tons would have to use the Berlin Mills Bridge (Walking Bridge today), unless they got special permits from Mr. Anderson. When such permits were issued, traffic on the bridge was stopped while a truck passed over it.

Anderson said the posted load capacity for the Berlin Mills Bridge was 30 tons, but that it could only take 20 tons safely. He was preparing to bring the official load down to 20 tons for that bridge. I do not know when the Mason Street Bridges were repaired back then, but two other bridges were built in Berlin since this time and the Mason Street Bridges were completely repaired.

Poof Tardiff writes a weekly column for The Berlin Daily Sun. 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 weekly posted to mystery pictures.

Whittemore LawrenceLawrence Whittemore

Original Mason St. Bridge 1Original Mason St. Bridge

Mason St. Bridge 1950Mason St. Bridge 1950

Berlin Mills BridgeBerlin Mills Bridge