North Brook History

North Brook provided power for a number of small mills in the town of Berlin. One of the earliest mills was built in the mid-18th century in south Berlin, and the long earth-and-stone dam that was constructed there created what is now called Wheeler Pond. This dam powered a sawmill until fairly recently and was also used to power a gristmill. Another early saw- and gristmill was located in West Berlin where Route 62 crosses North Brook just east of the railroad tracks. The road passes over the old dam. At least seven other sites on North Brook powered mills, but these have long-since been abandoned.

The railroad
At one time there were two railroads running through the town of Berlin. Each was a line of one of the two main systems of New England, the Boston & Maine and the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroads, and so Berlin was connected to a vast range of places. The earlier of the two lines to be built was part of the New York, New Haven and Hartford system and ran through the western part of Berlin from north to south, following the course of North Brook. This line, chartered on April 26, 1847, was called the Agricultural Branch Railroad and in 1866, the time at which it began to run regular passenger cars, it extended from Northborough to Pratt's Junction in Sterling. The Berlin Station was located at the junction of South Street and Jones Road in the south part of town, and a second station was located in West Berlin across from the village store on West St. This station was originally just called the West Berlin Station; however, as there was some confusion between the enunciation of "West Berlin" and "Westboro," the station became "Carters" in 1922, named after Silas R. Carter, the man who had charge of the depot when it was established.

In 1867, only a year after this line came to Berlin, its name was changed to the Boston, Clinton and Fitchburg Railroad Company, and it consolidated with the Fitchburg and Worcester line in 1869, also leasing the New Bedford Railroad Company in 1874. In 1882 this company united with the Old Colony Road, resulting in the corporation known as the Old Colony Railroad Company. Shortly thereafter in 1893, the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad Company took a ninety-nine-year lease on the Old Colony, which meant that Berlin was directly connected to Boston, Fall River, New Bedford, and Fitchburg for the next forty years. [alternately: The Agricultural Branch Railroad passed through a series of owners, becoming a part of various different rail systems in the latter half of the 19th century.] With the advent of trolley cars and automobiles, though, demand for the passenger service of the railroad gradually decreased until it was discontinued in 1933. However, these tracks are still used for heavy freight service and are now operated by Conrail.

Conservation areas
North Brook currently runs through two significant conservation areas, the Fyfeshire Conservation Area in Bolton, and Garfield Woods in Berlin, owned by the Sudbury Valley Trustees. The town of Bolton has an extensive town history page up and SVT has information about the Garfield Woods

Houghton, William A. History of the Town of Berlin, 1784-1895. Worcester, MA: F.S. Blanchard & Co. Printers; 1895.

Krackhardt, Frederick A. History of the Town of Berlin, 1784-1959. Town of Berlin, 1959.

Towns of the Nashaway Plantation. Lancaster League of Historical Societies, 1976.

Researched and written for OAR by Joanna Solins.