Poof Tardiff: 1903 III

Hello fellow Berlinites. The spring of 1903 in Berlin, New Hampshire saw a lot of things happening, including accidents, new businesses and more.

The headlines on March 19, 1903, stated that one of the finest business structures in the county would be soon be built. It would be on Post Office Square and unlike any other building in town. The total cost would be $15,000.

The coming spring and summer in Berlin was very memorable in the history of this city’s growth and prosperity with the building of a new mill at the Cascades. It was also encouraging that one or two new buildings were completed before the fall and added immeasurably to the appearance and business importance portion of this city.

One of these was the new building that was owned by the City National Bank. The building was built on the site that was occupied by Dr. Denison on Post Office Square. Architect A. I. Lawrence said that once this building was built, it would be one of the most sightly and thoroughly elegant places to do a banking business in this part of New England.

The complete detail of this new edifice was written up with all its dimensions, rooms and inside finishing. Today it stands empty at the age of 114 years old on the same spot that was built back then.

A sad accident took place killing a man named Cyril Arsenault. Mr. Arsenault was a teamster for Blanchard and Twitchell (a logging company Berlin). Cyril was the victim of a peculiar accident on Saturday, March 21, 1903 that resulted in his death by Tuesday, March 26, 1903.

He had been hauling wood for the above named company all winter and Saturday was at Camp 35 preparing to bring out the camp paraphernalia. Along with several other men, Cyril was standing near a tree that had been recently felled. Into the stump of the tree, the woodsman who cut it, had driven his axe, the double edge kind.

For some reason, Arsenault jumped upon the butt of the fallen tree and as he did so, he slipped and fell with much force backwards and upon the stump that had the keen edge of the axe stuck in it. The blade penetrated the muscles in his back, severed one or two ribs and entered his lungs

Suffering immensely and in great danger of bleeding to death, the man was taken to the camp and Dr. Denison was summoned. Along with Dr. Catellier, they did all that could be done, but in spite of their best efforts, Aresenault died of internal injuries. The man's age was not listed.

Another headline was listed as a “Narrow Escape.” In this story, shortly after the whistles had blown the noon hour on Saturday, April 4, 1903, Main Street was the scene of a runaway which caused considerable excitement and came near to having serious consequences.

Percy Twitchell of Milan, who was in town on his regular market trip, left his team in front of the Wertheim Block (Morin’s Shoe store) on Main Street for a few minutes. While he was away, the horse was startled when someone opened up an umbrella. It bolted onto the sidewalk and started up the street.

A Miss Sheehan and was on her way to her boarding house at the time and had just passed the place where the horse was standing, when the animal made its wild dash. Hearing a disturbance behind her, she turned to see the horse almost upon her, but with great presence of mind, she ran for the steps in front of the Gilbert Block (corner of Main and Pleasant Streets). With the assistance of Myer Mineberg, she barely gained a safe spot in time to escape serious injury, but suffered slight bruises and temporary faintness.

Now, the horse turned sharply from the walk in front of the Gilbert Block spilling all of its contents and clearing itself from the carriage. The carriage collided with a post, reducing it to kindling wood and the horse proceeded to cross the Mason Street bridge, where it was caught at the B&M depot (Depot Restaurant today). These runaways back then caused a lot of commotion and damage.

Our Androscoggin River during these days, was loaded with logs. Some of these logs came right through the city and were destined for other places along the river. On Sunday, April 27, 1903, an interesting crowd of spectators congregated on the Mason Street Bridge all afternoon to watch the river drivers work thousands of logs over the dam at that place.

The logs varied in length from 4 to 12 feet, the different sizes being destined for various points down the river, the major portion being at Oxford, Maine. The sight of them plunging over the falls was well worth seeing.

The largest logs were lifted like matches by the tremendous current and driven into the seething pool below with power that caused them not to reappear upon the surface until they were far below the bridge.

Water in all of the surrounding streams was said to be at exactly the right height for the most successful river driving and every minute was being used by the various companies. I would have loved to have seen this take place back then.

Now that the Cascade Mill was in the process of being constructed, tracks from the Grand Trunk and B & M were being brought into this new business. During the first week of May 1903, another enterprise that gave employment to 200 or more men for the large part of the summer took place. It was the construction of a branch line from the Grand Trunk mainline to the new Cascade works of the Berlin Mills Company (Cascade Mill).

At this time, it had not been determined at just what point the branch course would begin. A number of railroad officials were in town looking over the ground and the matter was settled with the construction to begin at once.

Owing to the fact that the altitude of the Grand Trunk was so much greater than that of the location of the new Cascade Mill, it would be an undertaking of considerable magnitude to fabricate the road to good advantage involving a considerable amount of money. The fact that the line had to cross the road of the Berlin Street Railway was also a concept that had to be considered.

Of course, we still cross over this railroad line as we enter upon the Berlin-Gorham Road. This rail line has not been used in many years, but still stands there today (2017). A great amount of paper was hauled over these tracks to the Grand Trunk line for many years.

I will continue with the booming year of Berlin in 1903 with my next writing.

Poof Tardiff writes a weekly column for The Berlin 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 previously posted weekly mystery pictures.

Wertheim BlockWertheim Block

Denison DrDr. Denison


Cirty National BankCity National Bank

Catellier DoctorDr. Catellier