The Androscoggin River weaves its way for fifty miles along New Hampshire's northern border with Maine and has largely defined the communities along its banks. Perhaps the northern forest's most significant yet least known river, in New Hampshire alone, the Androscoggin River has ten hydroelectric dams, making it one of the most regulated rivers in New England. The river's most dramatic and powerful drop in elevation (nearly three hundred feet) begins at the first dam within the City of Berlin and ends at the Cascade Dam two miles downstream. In 1859, Thomas Starr King, a chronicler of the White Mountains, characterized this stretch of the river as "the most powerful cataract of the mountain region." For centuries man has discovered and rediscovered this region, from the Paleo-Indians who mined rhyolite in the Jasper Caves in Berlin to make tools (of which the mine is the only prehistoric archeological site on the National Register of Historic Places in the United States) to the industrialists who harnessed the river's power for manufacturing.
Situated on the pitch of the Androscoggin River, Berlin became the center of the pulp and papermaking industry in New England. Chartered in 1829, Berlin saw little economic activity apart from a few small farms for several decades. By 1850, however, three developments had changed the economic landscape of the Androscoggin Valley. The first was the introduction of the turbine engine that, when integrated into dams in the river, could generate power for mills. The second was the coming of the railroad to Berlin in 1852. The third factor was the availability of a new immigrant population in the United States ready and willing to relocate for the promise of employment.
In 1852 a group of Portland, Maine businessmen, John B. Brown, Josiah S. Little, Nathan Winslow and Hezekiah Winslow, recognized that the construction of a railroad line through Berlin, coupled with the availability of the new turbine technology, made the Androscoggin River Valley an ideal place in which to locate a highly-productive sawmill. They formed a partnership under the name H. Winslow and Company, which changed its name to Berlin Mills Company in 1868. That same year John Brown sold his stock to William Wentworth (W. W.)...
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