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.