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Nicknames and origins of Berlin

November 06, 2013
BERLIN The city rich in history has undergone quite a few transitions, and throughout the centuries, nicknames given to Berlin have been suited to fit the times.

Before the city acquired nicknames, its actual name changed. During the West Indies trade in 1771 on New Year's Eve, Colonial Governor John Wentworth granted the community to settlers, and the small plantation village was named Maynesborough after Wentworth's associate, Sir William Mayne of London England. However, the original grantees never ended up settling here. Maynesborough was first settled in 1824 by Cyrus Wheeler and William Sessions of Gilead, Maine. Later on in 1829 on July 1, the township was incorporated as Berlin with the aid of Cyrus's father, Thomas Wheeler. One source states that the name change was adapted by settlers from Berlin, Massachusetts.

There were only about 65 residents, most from Shelburne and Gilead Maine, and farming was the first industry. It was quickly apparent that the regions forests would provide a great source of logging, lumber, and wood services, and the Androscoggin River offered a convenient means to power a sawmill. After the Industrial Revolution, and after the St. Lawrence & Atlantic Railroad (later changed to Grand Trunk) arrived in Berlin in 1851, the first sawmill was built and owned by businessmen from Portland Maine. H. Winslow & Company changed its name to Berlin Mills Company in 1868. The owners ended up selling their stock to William Wentworth Brown and the mill was renamed to Brown Company during World War I. The Forest Fiber Company and International Paper Company were other industries in Berlin.

It is of no wonder that Berlin has been nicknamed "Paper City" and "The City that Trees Built." Another nickname once given to the city was "Boomtown." The population was quickly increasing as Brown Company needed several thousand employees to work at the mill. Workers and their families from Great Britain, Canada, Russia, Scandinavia, and Germany soon settled here, and by 1897, the town became a city. The mill was a dominating force in the American paper industry and the city was thriving with prosperity and the population had reached about 20,000, double what it is today. The Great Depression seemed to have not affected the mill, but near the end of World War II, the Brown family filed bankruptcy and outside investors bought the mill. The mill and paper industry never quite experienced the same success as when the Browns owned and operated the mill.

"Hockey Town USA" is also a nickname that Berlin once held, and for good reason. Between 1910 and 1920, Brown Company helped in establishing this title. D.B. Brown, one of the owners of the company, formed a Mill League, and soon, Amateur hockey became a phenomena and very popular. Berlin is credited with helping to introduce the sport to the rest of the country before NHL emerged.

In 1910, amateur hockey began in Berlin with the organization of mill teams. Additionally, numerous other communities had teams for short periods of time. In 1923, the Berlin Athletic Association (BAA) formed and was a driving force until 1928. Then, the Berlin Hockey Club boosted the sport to a new level as many games were played at the Boston Arena for the New England Competition. The Berlin Maroons were formed in 1937, and the team went on to win New England AAU championships in 1941, 1949, and 1951, and the National AHA championships in 1954, 1967 and 1968. Team mates of the Maroons were dubbed "The Flying Frenchman" and many have landed in the NH Legends of Hockey Hall of Fame.

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