Harp Switch Stand, New Hampshire

Beebe River Railroad - Harp Switch Stand along the old Beebe River Railroad in Waterville Valley, New Hampshire. This was an logging railroad, which operated from 1917-1942. The harp style switch stand was a manually operated railroad switch, which allowed trains to transfer to another section of track.
Beebe River Logging Railroad – Harp Switch Stand
 

Harp Switch Stand, New Hampshire – Popular during the early days of railroading, the harp style switch stand was a manually operated railroad switch, which allowed trains to transfer to another section of track. This was accomplished by a railroad worker pushing or throwing the long bar (above). The included images are part of my environmental image collection that is focused on abandoned railroads.

During the railroad era, harp switch stands were used on many New Hampshire railroads, including the logging railroads. Most of the harp switch stands along the logging railroads were removed back in the 1900s when the railroad track was picked up, but a handful of them were left deep in the backcountry of the White Mountains. Now considered historical artifacts these switches are a reminder of the land destruction that once took place in the White Mountains many years ago.

Beebe River Railroad - Harp Switch Stand along the old Beebe River Railroad in Waterville Valley, New Hampshire. This was a logging railroad, which operated from 1917-1942. The harp style switch stand was a manually operated railroad switch, which allowed trains to transfer to another section of track.
Beebe River Logging Railroad – Harp Switch Stand
 

Along the Beebe River Railroad in Waterville Valley remains an abandoned harp switch stand (above). This railroad operated from 1917–1942, however, the last timber hauled on the railroad was in 1935. The Draper Corporation purchased the Beebe River land tract, the Beebe mill, and the railroad in 1924. Under the agreement, the Woodstock Lumber Company would harvest the remaining spruce and operate the mill until May 1925. Draper ended up only using a short section of the railroad, so it seems likely this switch stand was last used around 1924.

Harp Switch Stand along the abandoned East Branch & Lincoln Railroad in the Pemigewasset Wilderness of Lincoln, New Hampshire. The East Branch & Lincoln was a logging railroad in operating from 1893 - 1948.
East Branch & Lincoln Railroad – Harp Switch Stand
 

In East Branch & Lincoln Railroad territory, deep in the Pemigewasset Wilderness, at least three harp switch stands remain. The two EB&L switches included in this blog article were probably last operational sometime in the 1920s. Years ago, I found reference to when this switch stand was last in service, but I can’t find it at the moment. And like the Beebe switch, they are a reminder of the past.

Harp Switch Stand along the abandoned East Branch & Lincoln Railroad in the Pemigewasset Wilderness of Lincoln, New Hampshire. The East Branch & Lincoln was a logging railroad in operating from 1893-1948.
East Branch & Lincoln Railroad – Harp Switch Stand
 

Though some hoot and holler about historic artifacts being eyesores, I see them as a portal into the past. They tell the forgotten story of a time in the White Mountains most of us can only read about in history books. And they remind us of how greedy and destructive man can be.

As you explore the many historic sites in the New Hampshire White Mountains, keep in mind that the removal of historic artifacts from federal lands without a permit is a violation of federal law.

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 harp switch stands here

Happy image making..


 

Historic Information Disclaimer | Don’t Remove Artifacts | Purchase Our EB&L Railroad Book

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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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2 Responses to “Harp Switch Stand, New Hampshire”

  1. Adam

    Came by part of one of these stands on my last hike, but wasn't sure what it was.  Thank you for the nice information and write up about it.

    Reply
    • Erin Paul Donovan

      Hi Adam,

      I am glad you enjoyed it. Finding one of these harp switches along an abandoned railroad is a real treat. I only know of a few in the White Mountains region (that remain in the forest).

       

      Reply

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