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.

Berlin Candids

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

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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4 Responses to “The Town That Trees Built”

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  • The old and las mill sits in the middle of town. It was shut down in 2006 and part of it was destroyed. It now sits empty. You can see it from almost every place in town. Tons of people were laid off. As to what will happen to the building that remains to be seen. Wonderful people here and wonderful stories.

    Comment from Nina on June 16, 2009 at 10:41 pm - Reply to this Comment
  • Oh! So that’s what those islands are for! Thanks for sharing this bit of history!

    Comment from Sara on June 15, 2009 at 10:19 pm - Reply to this Comment
  • Have you seen the old mills? What happened to them after they stopped running? It sounds like a really interesting place to be hearing stories.

    Comment from Chaela on June 15, 2009 at 10:13 pm - Reply to this Comment
  • Ahhh, the town that trees built *sigh. Sounds lovely, looks beautiful. Are you learning to identify the New England trees?

    Comment from Whitney on June 15, 2009 at 2:13 pm - Reply to this Comment

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