East Branch & Lincoln Railroad, Lincoln

Pemigewasset Wilderness - Abandoned rail-line deep in the Pemigewasset Wilderness in Lincoln, New Hampshire. This spur line was located along the East Branch & Lincoln logging railroad, which operated from 1893-1948.
East Branch & Lincoln Railroad – Abandoned Railroad Track
 

East Branch & Lincoln Railroad – The East Branch & Lincoln Railroad, built by timber baron James E. Henry, was a logging railroad that operated from 1893-1948 in the New Hampshire towns of Lincoln and Franconia. Much of the railroad was in the area we know today as the Pemigewasset Wilderness. If you venture into the Pemi, from the Lincoln Woods Trail, you will be walking the railroad bed of Henry’s railroad.

During its existence, the East Branch & Lincoln Railroad was sold to the Parker Young Company and then to the Marcalus Manufacturing Company. The railroad was considered the "elite logging railroad" during the 19th & 20th century White Mountains logging era. And towards the end of its lifespan truck logging played a role in the logging operations.

Wetlands area along the Franconia Brook Trail in the Pemigewasset Wilderness of Lincoln, New Hampshire. The southern end of Owls Head is off in the distance. A spur line of the old East Branch & Lincoln Logging Railroad traveled through this area.
East Branch & Lincoln Railroad – Camp 9 Spur Line
 

Some sections of the East Branch & Lincoln Railroad are now wetlands, and it is almost impossible to tell a railroad was ever in some areas. Most hikers pass by the above area, along Franconia Brook Trail, never knowing it was at one time dry and part of the railroad. During the logging era, a spur line beginning at Camp 9 traveled through this wetlands in a northwesterly direction, crossed Franconia Brook at today's Lincoln Brook Trail crossing, and ended at a landing / work area just beyond the brook.

Pemigewasset Wilderness - Remnants of the East Branch & Lincoln Railroad bed in the area of Stillwater Junction in Lincoln, New Hampshire. This section of railroad led to Camp 19. This was a logging railroad, which was in operation from 1893-1948.
East Branch & Lincoln Railroad – Stillwater Junction, Camp 19 Line
 

Based on my field research and educated guess I estimate between 50-70 miles of track (including spur lines) and at least forty-two camps. The mileage of track varies from historian to historian, but I feel 50-70 miles is a solid estimate. I do think there are more spur lines and camps to be found. One of the cooler sections of the railroad bed is in the area of Stillwater Junction (above).

Artifacts at Camp 24B which was a logging camp located along the Cedar Brook branch of the East Branch & Lincoln Railroad in the Pemigewasset Wilderness of Lincoln, New Hampshire. This was a logging Railroad which operated from 1893-1948.
East Branch & Lincoln Railroad – Camp 24B (mountain camp)
 

Today the locations of the rail-side and high mountain camps are almost a mystery. There were over forty known logging camps associated with this railroad. The high mountain camps were smaller dwellings, when compared to the rail-side camps, and are very hard to locate in the forest today. Many of the camp locations are based on guesses by historians. Some guesses are accurate, and some are way off.

Possibly the remnants of a logging sluice, from the East Branch & Lincoln Railroad, on Southwest Twin Mountain (Redrock Ravine) in the Pemigewasset Wilderness of New Hampshire. The East Branch & Lincoln Railroad was a logging railroad in operation from 1893-1948.
East Branch & Lincoln Railroad – Possibly a Logging Sluice in Redrock Ravine 
 

I have found some interesting artifacts while exploring this railroad, but the possible logging sluice (above) on the side of Southwest Twin Mountain in Redrock Ravine intrigues me the most. I say “possible” because this is the only sluice I have found in East Branch & Lincoln territory, so I don’t have anything else to compare it to for verification. And I have yet to find any reference of a sluice ever being in Redrock Ravine.

Zealand Notch  - A hiker takes in the view of the Pemigewasset Wilderness from the summit of Zeacliff during the summer months. Located along the Appalachian Trail in the White Mountains, New Hampshire.
East Branch & Lincoln Territory – Pemigewasset Wilderness from Zeacliff
 

The East Branch & Lincoln Railroad covered such a large area of the New Hampshire White Mountains, and there is so much history surrounding the railroad that I will never be done documenting it. It is an incredible piece of White Mountains history.

All of the above images can be licensed for publications by clicking on the image you are interested in. And you can view more images of the East Branch & Lincoln Railroad in its current state here. I have also written other blog articles about the East Branch & Lincoln that may interest you.

Happy image making..


 

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Erin Paul is a professional photographer who specializes in environmental conservation and historic preservation photography in the New Hampshire White Mountains. His work is published worldwide, and credits include; Backpacker Magazine, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, the Appalachian Mountain Club, and The Wilderness Society.

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6 Responses to “East Branch & Lincoln Railroad, Lincoln”

  1. Michael J. Curtiss

    That possible sluice is intriguing: did you discover an evidence of machinery at its terminal end to signify that it was constructed to power an on-site sawmill?

    Excellent images.  Your work keeps our history vibrant and alive.  Thank you!  

    Reply
    • Erin Paul Donovan

      Hi Michael,

      I have not found anything that suggests there was an on-site sawmill, but there was a logging camp in the general area. For me, this has been one of the great mysteries of the East Branch & Lincoln.

      I am glad you enjoy my work. The history of the White Mountains is fascinating.

      Reply
  2. Justin Zampa

    Awesome pics and info Dan! My buddy and I just hiked a majority of the Pemi loop last fall, but we decided to follow an even larger portion of the old railroad and along the way could certainly see old (what appeared to be) siddings and what not. Since then, I’ve craved more and more info on the old lines and camps. Sad to know that much of it gets lost in history but makes me ecstatic to see someone bringing it to light. Great site!

    Reply
    • Erin Paul Donovan

      Thank you, Justin. Glad you enjoyed this. The story of the East Branch and Lincoln Railroad and the White Mountains logging era is fascinating. It is hard to imagine the mountainsides clear-cut.

      Happy Holidays.

       

      Reply
  3. Dan

    Great info! We just hiked in that area with a Boy Scout troop and it was cool to get some background on the railroad. The boys thought it was cool to be hiking on an old rail line.

    Reply

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