by Carol Henry Dunn, Berlin Township Historian
Berlin Township in Wayne County, Pennsylvania, was formed in 1826 from the eastern portion of Dyberry Township. The name was in honor of the German city of Berlin, chosen because many of the original settlers were from that area of Europe. In 1846 the Township lost some territory due to the formation of Oregon Township, part of which came from Berlin. Samuel Smith, whose name was originally Schmidt, was probably the first settler in the Township, establishing a farm on Smith Hill, named for his family. The first post office was Ashland, established in 1844 with Isaac Doughty as postmaster.
Around 1830, a large group of immigrants from Cornwall and Devon in England started to arrive in Wayne County, many of them settling in Oregon Township and Berlin Township. Many descendants of the original immigrants – with names like Olver, Bellamy, Bryant, Marshall, Spry and Garrett, to name a few – live in the area yet today.
Originally called Mud Pond, then Beech Pond because of the abundance of beech trees, the name of Berlin Township’s largest village gradually became Beach Lake by 1905.
Ephraim Torrey, son of Jason, was the first settler at Beech Pond and built a sawmill there in about 1820. Lumbering became a very profitable enterprise and for many years was the leading industry, along with large and equally profitable tanneries.
The opening of the D & H Canal in 1828, and the construction of new roads, brought prosperity to Berlin Township, but as the railroads were built and the forests depleted, the township’s prosperity declined. The railroad, however, brought new prosperity in the form of tourism. Boarding houses and hotels sprang up to receive eager visitors from the big cities who flocked to beautiful Beach Lake. Vacationers still seek out the lake-side resorts and many summer guests are “campers” at the Township’s summer camps.
Today Beach Lake is the “hub” of Berlin Township, with its fine churches, fire company, and Berlin Township Community Center. The Community Center is the former township school, and now houses the meeting rooms and the office of the Board of Supervisors and the Township Secretary.
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