Historic Logging Camps, White Mountains

Historical logging camps in the White Mountains. Artifacts at possibly the location of the logging camp site Upper Osceola Camp in Waterville Valley, New Hampshire. This camp was part the Mad River log drive.
Mad River Log Drive – Waterville, New Hampshire

Historic Logging Camps, White Mountains – Most of this summer season I have been documenting history and culture subjects in the New Hampshire White Mountains. The last few blog articles have been historical in nature so today I am going to continue with this theme and introduce you to the late nineteenth and twentieth century camps of White Mountains logging era.

Some consider the artifacts that remain on National Forest land to be nothing more than junk. But I see them as a window to the past that allows us to, to some extent, see what life was like for the men who worked and lived in the forests of the White Mountains during the twentieth century.

Artifacts at Camp 3 of the Beebe River Railroad in Sandwich, New Hampshire. This was a logging railroad in operation from 1917-1942.
Beebe River Railroad – Campton, New Hampshire

During the twentieth century, most logging in the White Mountains was done by railroad, but there were some river drives. Walking the old railroad bed of a twentieth century logging railroad is similar to taking a journey through the abandoned Sandwich Notch hill farm community, only you won’t see cellar holes and stone walls. You will see railroad and logging camp related artifacts such as ax heads, bed frames, cans, peaveys, railroad track, and pans like the one above at a camp along the Beebe River Railroad.

Artifacts at Camp 19 which was a logging camp along the East Branch & Lincoln Railroad in Lincoln, New Hampshire. The East Branch & Lincoln Railroad was a logging railroad that operated from 1893-1948.
East Branch & Lincoln Railroad – Lincoln, New Hampshire

Dozens of abandoned camp sites, like the one above along the East Branch & Lincoln Railroad, are scattered throughout the White Mountains. Structures built along the logging railroads were not meant to be permanent. The logging camps were makeshift, and the railroads burned them down once loggers vacated them. But not all camps were burned down some were left in the forest to rot.

Beech trees growing up around a rusted bed frame in Kinsman Notch of the New Hampshire White Mountains. This bed frame is possibly from an old logging camp of the Gordon Pond Railroad. This logging railroad was in operation from 1905-1916.
Gordon Pond Railroad – Woodstock, New Hampshire

What makes the camps of the logging era unique is many of the camp locations are unknown. The few maps that do show the camp locations of various logging operations are helpful, but they don’t show all the remote camps that were located off the main line of any given logging railroad. And at this point, we will never know all the camp locations because there is no documentation of them.

Artifacts at Camp Number 5 of the Sawyer River Railroadwhich, along the Meadow Brook drainage, in Livermore, New Hampshire. This was a logging railroad that operated from 1877-1928. This metal bracket was bolted to each end of a "Reach". A reach was a spruce beam used to connect loaded railroad log trucks to one another.
Sawyer River Railroad – Livermore, New Hampshire

The role the logging camps played in the White Mountains logging era is forever implanted in New Hampshire history books. Many of the logging camps have already disappeared into the hillsides. And at some point, hundreds of years from now, the artifacts in this blog article will also have disappeared into the hillsides. From a preservation point of view, its kind of sad when you think about it.

The above images can be licensed for publications by clicking on the image you are interested in. And you can view more White Mountains railroad images here.

Happy image making..


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2 Responses to “Historic Logging Camps, White Mountains”

  1. Anita OMalley

    My grandfather and father worked in the logging business. I gave a neat picture to Lincoln hystory museum of my grandfather and father coming out of the woods on an old locomotive.

    • Erin Paul Donovan

      Hi Anita,

      Thank you for sharing – The next time I’m at the Upper Pemigewasset Historical Society (Lincoln’s history museum), I will see if I can locate the photo you gave them.


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