East Branch & Lincoln, Abandoned Spur Lines

Spur lines, Pemigewasset Wilderness. Location of a spur line off the East Branch & Lincoln Railroad at North Fork Junction in Lincoln, New Hampshire. The railroad tracks traveled up this rocky brook bed.
North Fork Junction Spur Line – East Branch & Lincoln Railroad
 

East Branch & Lincoln Railroad, Abandoned Spur Lines – The East Branch & Lincoln Railroad (1893-1948) was a logging railroad in the New Hampshire White Mountains. With the current documentation, we can get a good idea of the layout of the railroad and firsthand accounts from people who worked the woods. And though based on educated guesses, we can also determine the locations of the abandoned logging camps along the railroad. But the reality is there is so much unknown about this railroad.

One of the great unknowns is how many spur lines existed along the East Branch & Lincoln. A spur line is a short branch of railroad track that leads off the main line. Along the East Branch & Lincoln, spur lines lead to landings where railroad log cars were loaded. And shorter spur lines (some refer to these as sidings) were used to store railroad log cars. Today, I am going to share with you some of the known spur lines and sidings.

Remnants of a spur line along the East Branch & Lincoln Railroad in the Thoreau Falls Valley of the Pemigewasset Wilderness in Lincoln, New Hampshire.
Thoreau Falls Valley Siding – East Branch & Lincoln Railroad
 

Along the Thoreau Falls Trail, which utilizes the old railroad bed of the North Fork Branch of the East Branch & Lincoln, a couple of sidings can still be found. One is well defined (above) while another one has been reclaimed by mother nature and is almost unrecognizable.

Wetlands area along the Franconia Brook Trail in the Pemigewasset Wilderness of New Hampshire during the autumn months. The southern end of Owls Head is off in the distance. The Camp 9 spur line at Camp 9 of the East Branch & Lincoln Railroad (1893-1948) traveled through this wetlands area. The spur started at Camp 9, went through these wetlands, crossed Franconia Brook, and ended in a landing / work area just beyond the brook crossing.
Camp 9 Spur Line – East Branch & Lincoln Railroad
 

The Franconia Brook Trail follows the old railroad bed of the Franconia Brook Branch of the East Branch & Lincoln to Thirteen Falls. Along the trail, at the Camp 9 site, is a wetlands area that has a great view of the southern end of Owls Head (above). You would never know it today because beaver activity has flooded the area since the logging era, but the Camp 9 spur line traveled through this wetlands. It started at Camp 9, traveled through these wetlands, crossed Franconia Brook, and ended in a landing area beyond the brook.

East Branch & Lincoln Railroad - Flooding from Tropical Storm Irene in 2011 uncovered railroad ties along the Pemi East Trail in the Pemigewasset Wilderness of Lincoln, New Hampshire.
Pemi East Trail Spur Line – East Branch & Lincoln Railroad
 

In 2011, flooding from Tropical Storm Irene uncovered railroad ties (above) that were completely buried along the Pemi East Trail. This section of the now closed Pemi East Trail follows part of a spur line that came off the main line of the East Branch & Lincoln.

The spur line began about a half a mile above Trestle 7, crossed the East Branch of the Pemigewasset River, and then traveled up this section of the closed Pemi East Trail ending in the general area of Cedar Brook. What is interesting about these railroad ties is they look to be fallen trees that have been squared with an adze (a hand tool used to shape railroad ties).

The Redrock Ravine spur line of the East Branch & Lincoln Railroad in the Pemigewasset Wilderness.
Redrock Ravine Spur Line – East Branch & Lincoln Railroad
 

Even though I look at the East Branch & Lincoln from a historical point of view, the Redrock Ravine Spur line (above) is an excellent example of the impact we have on the environment. It has been many years since this spur line was active. And though hikers are unofficially using it to enter Redrock Ravine, the railroad grade is still in great condition. This abandoned spur line will be around for many years.

Railroad track from the East Branch & Lincoln Railroad along the Bondcliff Trail in the Pemigewasset Wilderness. This short section of trail follows the old Black Brook spur line at Camp 16.
Camp 16 Siding – East Branch & Lincoln Railroad
 

I am sure some of you have seen the piece of railroad track (above), near Camp 16, along the Bondcliff Trail. There was a short siding at Camp 16, but I have always wondered why this single piece of track is where it is. It is, but it isn’t out of place. Based on a theory and research, I believe that I know some of the story behind this piece of track. It will only interest railroad buffs so if you ever cross paths with me ask me about it.

All of the above images can be licensed for publications by clicking on the image you are interested in. And you can view more historic White Mountains logging railroads here.

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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