The Town That Trees Built
StoryCorps is in Berlin, New Hampshire! It’s pronounced BER-lin and not Ber-LIN (the emphasis on the ‘BER’ as opposed to the way you might pronounce the capital of the nation of Germany). The pronunciation was changed, according to participant Paul “Poof” Tardiff, during World War I as a patriotic stand against the German enemy.
Poof is a resident historian here in Berlin, which is also know as “the town that trees built.” Berlin is a paper mill town. During its heyday in the late 19th century and into the early 20th century, five mills ran full time churning out paper goods. Each spring, according to Poof, men drove logs down the Androscoggin River to supply the mills with lumber. These men wore spiked boots and worked the fallen trees down river, separating the logs to be delivered to each mill by use of a series of boom piers, or man made islands, which still dot the Androscoggin River.
Paul “Poof” Tardiff
After long, harsh winters in the woods, loggers and river drivers flooded into the big city during log-driving season, transforming Berlin into a lively – and sometimes rowdy – place. Log drives ended in the 1960s and the last paper mill closed in 2006.
Today, Berlin is the throes of a new phase transitioning from a booming mill town into a smaller, quieter place. What is next for the town that trees built? We have three weeks to find out…
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