East Branch & Lincoln Railroad, Trestle 17

Trestle 17, East Branch & Lincoln Railroad- trestle No. 17 was located along the Upper Branch of the railroad in today's Pemigewasset Wilderness. It spanned the East Branch of the Pemigewasset River near the site of logging Camp 17.
South-facing View, Trestle 17 – Courtesy of the Upper Pemigewasset Historical Society
 

East Branch & Lincoln Railroad, Trestle 17 – Built in the early 1900s, probably 1906-1908 (one source states 1908) trestle 17 was located along the Upper East Branch of the East Branch & Lincoln Railroad in New Hampshire. It spanned the East Branch of the Pemigewasset River near the site of logging Camp 17. Camp 17 was on the south side of the trestle. This trestle is within today’s 45,000-acre Pemigewasset Wilderness.

A log landing and a short siding for the landing were located on the north side of the river in the area where a hiking trail formerly accessed the 180 foot suspension bridge. The above undated photograph shows loaded log cars on the trestle with the log landing in the foreground. And the cutover slopes of a spur of Mount Hancock can be seen in the background.

Remnants of trestle No. 17 along the old East Branch & Lincoln Railroad (1893-1948) in the Pemigewasset Wilderness of Lincoln, New Hampshire. This trestle spanned the East Branch of the Pemigewasset River near logging Camp 17.
North-facing View – Trestle 17, East Branch & Lincoln Railroad
 

The north-facing view above shows how the trestle 17 site looks today. The log landing seen in the black and white photograph was on the opposite side of the river, on the right. The last log train rolled over this trestle most likely in 1946, not long after the Cedar Brook operation was completed.

Stone abutments from the abandoned trestle No. 17 along the old East Branch & Lincoln Railroad (1893-1948) in the Pemigewasset Wilderness of Lincoln, New Hampshire. This trestle spanned the East Branch of the Pemigewasset River near logging Camp 17.
Trestle 17 Abutment – East Branch & Lincoln Railroad
 

Surprisingly, even after all the storms we have had over the years, the stone abutments remain in place. Based on how high the East Branch of the Pemigewasset River was on other parts of the river during Tropical Storm Irene in 2011 its very likely these abutments were underwater during Irene.

Remnants of the abandoned trestle No. 17 along the old East Branch & Lincoln Railroad (1893-1948) in the Pemigewasset Wilderness of Lincoln, New Hampshire. This trestle spanned the East Branch of the Pemigewasset River near logging Camp 17.
Trestle 17 Abutment – East Branch & Lincoln Railroad
 

Because of the time frame trestle 17 was believed to have been built, its possible the East Branch & Lincoln Railroad’s legendary bridge builder Levi “Pork Barrel” Dumas had some involvement in the building of it. Dumas was known for his exceptional construction skills.

Remnants of trestle No. 17 along the old East Branch & Lincoln Railroad (1893-1948) in the Pemigewasset Wilderness of Lincoln, New Hampshire. This trestle spanned the East Branch of the Pemigewasset River near Camp 17. The 180 foot suspension bridge, which also spanned the river along the Wilderness Trail can be seen in the background. This bridge has since been removed because of safety issues.
Trestle 17 Site – East Branch & Lincoln Railroad
 

After operations ended on the East Branch & Lincoln Railroad in 1948, in 1959-1960 a suspension bridge for hikers was built across the East Branch of the Pemigewasset River to replace trestle 17. The footbridge was built just upriver from the old trestle (above). In 1984 an Act to establish wilderness areas in New Hampshire was passed; the New Hampshire Wilderness Act. Designated a wilderness under the 1984 New Hampshire Wilderness Act, this area became part of the 45,000-acre Pemigewasset Wilderness.

2009 - Pemigewasset Wilderness - 180 foot Suspension bridge, which spans the East Branch of the Pemigewasset River along the Wilderness Trail in Lincoln, New Hampshire USA. This footbridge is located at the Trestle 17 location along the East Branch & Lincoln Railroad, which was a logging railroad in operation from 1893 - 1948. This bridge was removed in 2009 and no longer exists.
180 Foot Suspension Bridge – Trestle 17 Site
 

The supension bridge was 180-feet long, roughly 25 feet above the river, and had a two-person weight limit during its last few years of life. It was dismantled in 2009 because of safety concerns. Because the area is a designated wilderness, governed under the National Wilderness Preservation System and the Wilderness Act of 1964, the bridge was not rebuilt. Both have strict guidelines when it comes to man-made structures, and permanent improvements are not allowed within these areas.

The initials “E.G. 71” carved into a boulder on the East Branch of the Pemigewasset River, near the East Branch & Lincoln Railroad’s Trestle17, in the Pemigewasset Wilderness of Lincoln, New Hampshire.
Trestle 17 Site – East Branch of the Pemi River
 

Even though the suspension bridge has been dismantled, hikers exploring the backcountry continue to cross the East Branch of the Pemigewasset River at this location. Carved into one of the boulders at the crossing are the above initials and year. I wonder if this person is still around?

Remnants of Trestle 17 along the old East Branch & Lincoln Railroad (1893-1948) in the Pemigewasset Wilderness of Lincoln, New Hampshire. This trestle spanned the East Branch of the Pemigewasset River near Camp 17.
Trestle 17 Site Today – East Branch of the Pemi River
 

Today, the trestle 17 site along the East Branch of the Pemigewasset River is a peaceful place. And nature is slowly reclaiming the area. But the trestle abutments remind us that James Henry’s mighty East Branch & Lincoln Railroad once ruled these woods.

To license any of the color photos in this blog article for publications, click on the photo. And to learn more about the railroad see our EB&L Railroad book.

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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