Off the Beaten Path
If you get off the Interstate highways, traveling through New England can be a feast for your eyes. Small towns often still hold on to their historical past – Town Halls, Commemorative Statues, older buildings as well as, sometimes, a surprise or two.
On my way to Maine I decide to get off Interstate 95 and Route one and go through a group of out-of-the-way towns – Berwick, South Berwick and North Berwick. They reminded me of the many mill town of my youth that were located next to rivers.
This journey will highlight a community that beginning with the industrial revolution up to the time the mills closed in 1955. In 1834, the Lang, Hill & Company manufactured woolen blankets called “printing blankets,” at a mill beside the Great Works River. Other mills produced blankets for Civil War troops and in the 1900’s most mills manufactured worsted and woolen cloth – many of the popular daily wear was made of this material.
Like, so many towns, Berwick relied on a major industry to survive. The mill’s principal owner was “Friend” William Hill. References to this man were noted on several structures – a mill, a Quaker Friends Cemetery and a Fire department. It seems that he must have been the Town’s chief benefactor. Near the edge of town, something caught my eye, a large stone with a very formable wall behind it. Of course, I had to stop. It was a “Friends Cemetary” and on the wall a plaque with the name of the benefactor. Any guess who that might be? Also, the year of the gift.
If you haven’t been to a New England mill town you might be amazed to see so many older buildings and houses. Looking carefully past the renovations, you might be able to visualize what it look like when the towns were buzzing with mill activity. Today the empty mill have been converted to apartments and one is now a college.
Here are a few photographs of the area:
How about these surprises?
In the middle of “nowhere” I came across this building “Jitterbug” which seemed oddly out-of-place in this town.
And…just down he road, Is this the top of a house? Did anyone live in it? Right now it seems to be a storage shed!