Bartlett and Albany Railroad

This location in Bartlett, New Hampshire, along the old Portland & Ogdensburg Railroad (leased to the Maine Central Railroad in 1888), just east of the engine house and turntable, is where the Bartlett and Albany Railroad (1887-1894) joined the Portland & Ogdensburg Railroad.
Bartlett and Albany Railroad Connection in Bartlett Village (2010)

Bartlett and Albany Railroad, New Hampshire – The Bartlett and Albany Railroad was a logging railroad in the White Mountains towns of Bartlett and Albany. On October 21, 1887, the New Hampshire legislature approved an act to incorporate the Bartlett and Albany Railroad. The incorporators of the railroad were H.N. Jose, John C. Small, Reuben Wescott, W. F. Milliken, Charles E. Jose, C.F. Buffum, John Gillis, and Frank George. In operation from 1887-1894, the railroad began along the Portland and Ogdensburg Railroad (leased to the Maine Central Railroad in 1888) in Bartlett village, and it traveled in a southerly direction, over Bear Notch, ending at the Passaconaway settlement in Albany, near the Russell-Colbath homestead.

The Bartlett and Albany Railroad connected with the Portland & Ogdensburg Railroad (pictured above) just west of Albany Avenue, near the engine house and turntable, and there was another connection just to the east of Albany Avenue, near the Bartlett train station. The Bartlett Land and Lumber Company’s (parent company of the railroad) sawmill was located near the junction of the two railroads in Bartlett village.

Mountain scene from a scenic pulloff along Bear Notch Road in the White Mountains, New Hampshire on a cloudy morning.
Scenic View – Bear Notch Road, Bartlett (2010)

Today’s Bear Notch Road (on the Bartlett side), Rob Brook Road, and the Nanamocomuck Ski Trail follow segments of the old railroad right-of-way. Built with 60-pound rail, including sidings and spur lines, the railroad was 13 miles long, more or less. The Poor's Directory of Railway Officials (1893) reported that the railroad was 11.5 miles long in 1892. The log train made just one round trip a day; because it had to ascend Bear Notch loaded, there was a weight limit.

The Nanamocomuck Ski Trail in Albany, New Hampshire, near the Swift River.
Nanamocomuck Ski Trail – Albany, New Hampshire (2011)

Only one locomotive, the Albany, a 2-6-0 coal burner built by the Portland Company, was used on the railroad. On its way to the Passaconaway settlement in Albany, where there was a work area / camps, the log train would drop off empty log cars at the numerous sidings along the railroad and resupply the rail-side logging camps. The log cars were loaded at the sidings and then picked up on the return trip to Bartlett village.

Working around the log cars (or log trucks) was a dangerous job. On August 11, 1890, while positioning empty log cars on a siding along the railroad, Charles Black of Limington, Maine, was crushed by a rolling log car. The two men working with Black, William D. Sawyer, superintendent of the railroad, and Fred C. Hobson, put him in the locomotive and rushed back to Bartlett village, where he was then transferred to a Maine Central train. The plan was to take him to the Maine General Hospital in Portland. But because his injuries were so severe, it was determined during the trip that he was not going to make it, so the train stopped at the Steep Falls station, which was near his home in Limington. He died shortly after.

Nanamocomuck Ski Trail in the White Mountains, New Hampshire near the Swift River.
Nanamocomuck Ski Trail – Albany, New Hampshire (2011)

The artifact pictured above, along the Nanamocomuck Ski Trail in Albany, is part of a Magee's Advance No. 8 Stove made by the Magee Furnace Company in Chelsea, Massachusetts. Founded in 1864, the Magee Furnace Company was one of the largest producers of furnaces and stoves in the country. This area was very active during the 1800s and early 1900s, and it is unknown if this artifact is from one of the logging camps that was located near the end of the railroad. While guesses have been made, the exact number of logging camps associated with this railroad is unknown. This stove piece is a protected artifact, and the removal of historic artifacts from federal lands without a permit is a violation of federal law.

The timber frame barn, constructed in 2003, at the Russell-Colbath homestead site along the Kancamagus Highway in Albany, New Hampshire.
End of the Railroad – Passaconaway, Albany (2011)

The Great Blizzard of 1888 (March 11-14, 1888) created havoc in the Northeast; some areas received up to 55 inches of snow. The Bartlett and Albany Railroad had to shut down during the storm. In mid-April 1888, the railroad still had not reopened, and because of this, the logging camps at the end of the railroad at Passaconaway in Albany were low on supplies. Supply teams were sent out to resupply these camps. The most direct route from Bartlett village was the railroad, but because the snow was so deep, the supply teams had to take a 25-mile-long route through Conway to reach Passaconaway.

Operations along the railroad quietly came to an end in 1893/1894. However, the sawmill continued to operate through the 1890s. The mill and railroad properties were eventually sold, and the track was taken up around 1907. While the Bartlett and Albany Railroad was not the longest or most destructive logging railroad in the White Mountains, it is forever part of New Hampshire railroad history.

More reading:
East Branch & Lincoln Railroad Book
Russell-Colbath Homestead
Swift River Railroad

Happy image making..


© Erin Paul Donovan. All rights reserved | Historic Information Disclaimer | White Mountains History
To license any of the photographs above for usage in print publications, click on the photograph.

Gove, Bill. Logging Railroads of the Saco River Valley. Littleton, NH: Bondcliff Books, 2001.

New Hampshire Legislature. Laws of the State of New Hampshire, Passed June Session, 1887: An Act to incorporate the Bartlett & Albany Railroad, Chapter 294. Concord, NH: Josiah B. Sanborn, 1887, pp. 664-665.

Poor's Directory of Railway Officials. New York, N.Y: Poor's Railroad Manual Company, 1893.

“Railroad Matters.” The Portland Daily Press, 12, April 1888, p. 4.

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