Gordon Pond Railroad, New Hampshire

Silhouette of mountains at sunrise along Route 112 in Woodstock, New Hampshire USA. This area was part of the Gordon Pond Railroad, which was a logging railroad in operation from 1905-1916.
Gordon Pond Railroad Territory – White Mountains, New Hampshire
 

Gordon Pond Railroad, New Hampshire – Owned by the Johnson Lumber Company (George Johnson) the Gordon Pond Railroad was a logging railroad in the towns of Lincoln and Woodstock New Hampshire. It was in operation from 1907-1916, and it was roughly fifteen miles long. And even though the railroad was only about fifteen miles long it is one of the more complicated logging railroads I have documented.

The history books cover the paper trail of the Gordon Pond Railroad fairly well, so there is no reason for me to repeat that information here. If interested, you can view a map of this railroad here. With that being said I will give you a quick run down on the abandoned Gordon Pond Railroad. And then take you on a photo tour of how the railroad looks today.

Franconia Notch State Park - Scenic view from the summit of Mount Pemigewasset in Lincoln, New Hampshire USA during the summer months.
North Lincoln from Mount Pemigewasset, New Hampshire
 

Johnson Lumber Company's first sawmill was located in North Lincoln. The Boston & Maine Railroad already had a branch, the Whitehouse, Hall and Burns Branch, leading into North Lincoln. An agreement was worked out between the two so that Johnson Lumber Company could run their trains over this branch of the Boston & Maine. A small settlement formed around the North Lincoln sawmill known as “Johnson”. And at some point, a spur line was built so Hardwood Ridge could be logged. From North Lincoln, the Gordon Pond Railroad traveled into the Moosilauke Brook and Lost River drainages in Woodstock. The railroad went beyond their second sawmill that was located on the Lost River and ended below the Lost River Reservation in Kinsman Notch.

Site of the Mattson Flooring Company along the Gordon Pond Railroad in Lincoln, New Hampshire USA. This was a logging railroad in operation from 1905-1916.
Mattson Flooring Company – Gordon Pond Railroad, New Hampshire
 

Also in North Lincoln, near Harvard Brook, along the Gordon Pond Railroad, was another small settlement around the Mattson Flooring Company and the Pennsylvania Wagon Hub Company. Today, remnants of the flooring company (above) and the wagon hub company are still visible.

Young beech trees growing around a rusted bedframe near Mount Blue in Kinsman Notch of the White Mountains, New Hampshire. This bed frame is possibly from an old logging camp of the Gordon Pond Railroad, which was a logging railroad in operation from 1905-1916.
Possibly Remnants of a Johnson Camp – Kinsman Notch, New Hampshire
 

One of the many mysteries of the Gordon Pond Railroad are the logging camps that were located along it. We know they existed because there are vague references and pictures of them in history books, but the exact whereabouts of most of them are unknown for the most part. However, we do know the location of one of the Johnson Lumber Company camps that was in the Pemigewasset Wilderness, which I will mention later on.

Elbow Pond during the summer months in Woodstock, New Hampshire. Species of fish in this pond include chain pickerel, yellow perch and smallmouth bass. This area was part of the Gordon Pond Railroad, which was a logging railroad in operation from 1905-1916.
Elbow Pond – Woodstock, New Hampshire
 

The Gordon Pond Railroad also laid track up the Gordon Pond and Walker Brook drainages, and into the Elbow Pond and the Jackman Brook area. In some of these areas, you can still find evidence of the old railroad bed. Elbow Pond (above) is a picturesque pond that is worth a visit if this is the first hearing of it.

Part of a snubbing winch (artifact) along an abandoned sled road off the Gordon Pond Railroad in Kinsman Notch of the White Mountains, New Hampshire. This was a logging railroad in operation from 1905-1916.
Possibly A Snubbing Winch – Kinsman Notch, New Hampshire
 

The terrain in Kinsman Notch (Lost River drainage) is very rugged but with the use of steam donkeys and snubbing winches the Johnson Lumber Company was able to log the steep mountainsides that line Kinsman Notch. These fascinating contraptions were used to lower sleds loaded with logs and horses down steep sled roads. The above artifact is possibly part of an old snubbing winch that remains along an abandoned sled road.

Abandoned sled road from the Gordon Pond Railroad in Kinsman Notch of New Hampshire. This was a logging railroad in operation from 1905-1916.
Abandoned Sled Road – Gordon Pond Railroad, New Hampshire
 

An interesting feature of the Gordon Pond Railroad are the abandoned sled roads (or skid roads). Sled roads were man-made cut roads that horse teams used to drag logs to the landings. Kinsman Notch has some of the best preserved sled roads (above) I have been on in the White Mountains. I will also add that some of the steepest sled roads I have been on are in Kinsman Notch.

Artifact at the Old Johnson Camp in the Liberty Brook drainage of Lincoln, New Hampshire. Even though this camp was located in the Pemigewasset Wilderness (on the East Branch & Lincoln Railroad side of Mount Liberty) it was owned and operated by the Gordon Pond Railroad. The Gordon Pond Railroad owned a stand of timber on the East Branch & Lincoln Railroad side of Mount Liberty and made a deal with them to haul their timber out of the Pemi Wilderness using the East Branch Lincoln Railroad.
Johnson Lumber Company Camp – Mount Liberty, New Hampshire
 

The Johnson Lumber Company owned a stand of spruce on the Pemigewasset Wilderness side of Mount Liberty. They couldn’t reach this stand of spruce from the Gordon Pond Railroad because the terrain was to steep and it was surrounded by land owned by the East Branch & Lincoln Railroad. George Johnson made a deal with J.E. Henry & Sons, owners of the East Branch & Lincoln Railroad, to haul the timber out using the East Branch & Lincoln Railroad. Today, the Johnson Lumber Company camp (above) on the side of Mount Liberty is one of the few camps of the Gordon Pond Railroad that can be verified.

Artifact along the abandoned Gordon Pond Railroad in Kinsman Notch of the White Mountains, New Hampshire. This was a logging railroad in operation from 1905-1916. This artifact is possibly a “rave”, which is part of a logging sleigh.
Possibly A Logging Sleigh “Rave” – Gordon Pond Railroad, New Hampshire
 

The artifacts are far and few and the ones that do remain help tell the story of the abandoned Gordon Pond Railroad. The above artifact is possibly a “rave”, which is part of a logging sleigh. Even though logging sleighs were used throughout the White Mountains, I don't find many "raves" in the forest.

Birch tree in Kinsman Notch of the White Mountains, New Hampshire.
Old Birches – Gordon Pond Railroad, New Hampshire
 

The Gordon Pond Railroad is like no other logging railroad in the New Hampshire White Mountains. And today, this railroad is a one-hundred year old jigsaw puzzle that has left me with many questions that unfortunately will never be answered.

All of the above images can be licensed for publications by clicking on the image you are interested in. And you can view more scenes from along the Gordon Pond Railroad here.

Happy image making..


 

Links:
Historic Information Disclaimer | Don’t Remove Artifacts | White Mountains Calendar

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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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4 Responses to “Gordon Pond Railroad, New Hampshire”

  1. Scot

    Nice documtation of the wilder areas of the Gordon Pond RR. The best preserved parts of the rail bed run in the woods between the villages of North Woodstock and North Lincoln ("Johnson"). The State snowmobile trails use this section and it's been popular with mountain bikers too. I use it for running. There are no trailheads but you can access it from Sundance Road in Woodstock and Bog Brook Road in Lincoln. The link below is a gps track on Garmin Connect, the RR is the segment in the woods  

    https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/1234710723

    Reply
    • Erin Paul Donovan

      Hi Scot,

      I am glad you enjoyed it. And thank you for sharing your GPS track. It has been a number of years since I last walked the snowmobile trail you mention. It is a great area to explore.

      Reply
  2. Robin Rennie

    Very interesting info on the Gordon Pond Railroad. I know I've been to Elbow pond, many years ago, and I can't remember how we got there…..oh well, it will come to me. Thanks for taking me along thru the photos, beautiful.

    Reply
    • Erin Paul Donovan

      Hi Robin,

      I am glad you enjoyed the Gordon Pond Railroad. The old logging railroads in the White Mountains are fascinating. So much history just sitting out in the woods waiting to be discovered.

      Elbow Pond is off of Route 118. Maybe this map will help. You can zoom in on it. Take a look here.

       

       

      Reply

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