Woodstock & Thornton Gore Railroad – White Mountains, New Hampshire
Woodstock & Thornton Gore Railroad – Incorporated in March 1909, this short-lived logging railroad was operated by the Woodstock Lumber Company, a subsidy of the Parker-Young Company. It began at the Woodstock Lumber Company’s sawmill (built by the Publishers Paper Company) on the western bank of the Pemigewasset River in Woodstock, New Hampshire. From the mill, it traveled roughly 8 miles into the Eastman Brook drainage, traveling through the northern portion of Thornton*, known as the “Gore”, ending in Livermore.
For a couple of years before the railroad was built, horse teams were used to drag logs out of the forest to the Woodstock sawmill. But once the Woodstock & Thornton Gore Railroad was established, the Iron Horse took over the duties. Some of Tripoli Road and Little East Pond Trail utilize the old railroad bed. Three Shay geared locomotives, all 50-tonners, were used on the railroad, and the track equipment was leased from the Boston & Maine Railroad.
East Branch & Lincoln RR – Standing Utility Pole, Camp 17 Area
East Branch & Lincoln Railroad, Utility Poles – Telephone wires were strung from utility poles along the East Branch & Lincoln Railroad (1893-1948) to the numerous logging camps. In some areas along the railroad, side mounted wooden telephone peg holder pins nailed directly to trees were used in place of utility poles. Today, these utility poles are considered artifacts of the White Mountains logging era.
While this blog article focuses only on the abandoned East Branch & Lincoln Railroad, other logging railroads in the White Mountains used the same approach described above. And remnants of utility poles can still be found along some of the other railroads. However, as nature slowly reclaims the East Branch & Lincoln territory, standing utility poles are becoming a rarity.
Suspension Bridge – Lincoln Woods Trailhead, White Mountains
Lincoln Woods Trail, White Mountains – There isn’t a grand story about how the Lincoln Woods Trail came to be, and the trail isn’t named for any famous person. However, this trail is the direct result of J.E. Henry’s historic East Branch & Lincoln Railroad (1893-1948), and that is what makes it so unique.
The 2.9 mile-long Lincoln Woods Trails utilizes the railroad bed of the East Branch & Lincoln Railroad. It begins along the Kancamagus Highway at the Lincoln Woods trailhead, crosses a picturesque suspension bridge (above), and travels along the west side of the East Branch of the Pemigewasset River, and after crossing Franconia Brook, the trail abruptly ends at the Pemigewasset Wilderness boundary.
South-facing View, Trestle 17 – Courtesy of the Upper Pemigewasset Historical Society
East Branch & Lincoln Railroad, Trestle No. 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.
1900s EB&L Narrow Gauge Railroad – Courtesy of the Upper Pemigewasset Historical Society
EB&L Railroad, Narrow Gauge Line – In operation from 1893-1948, the East Branch & Lincoln (EB&L) was a standard gauge railroad. But in 1901 J.E. Henry and Sons attempted to use a narrow gauge railroad to harvest timber from the Whaleback Mountain (Mt Osseo) area. With the exception of a May 1902 article by Albert W. Cooper and T.S. Woolsey, Jr. in Forestry & Irrigation little is known about this short-lived railroad. There are only a few photos (above) of the railroad, and over the years the actual location has been in question.
The difference between standard gauge and narrow gauge railroads is the spacing between the rails. The spacing on standard gauge railroads is 4 feet 8 1⁄2 inches, while the spacing on narrow gauge railroads is 3 feet 6 inches (this can range some). Narrow gauge railroads usually cost less to build and operate, but the major drawback is they can't handle heavy loads. The logging railroads in the White Mountains preferred the heavy standard gauge lines for hauling timber.
Kiah Pond – Beebe River Railroad Country
Beebe River Railroad, New Hampshire – In January 1917, the Publishers Paper Company sold the Beebe River land tract (around 22,000 acres) to the Parker-Young Company. And in March 1917, the New Hampshire legislature approved the incorporation of the Beebe River Railroad. Also in the same year, the Woodstock Lumber Company, an affiliate of Parker-Young, built the Beebe River sawmill and mill village in Campton.
From 1917-1924, the Woodstock Lumber Company and Parker-Young operated the mill and railroad. Including sidings and spur lines, the railroad was roughly 25-miles long. It began off the Boston & Maine Railroad in Campton, followed the Beebe River drainage up into Sandwich, and ended near logging Camp 12 at the base of Mount Whiteface in Waterville. Some of the spruce harvested by this railroad was used in the manufacturing of airplanes during World War 1.
Storm Clouds over Owl's Mountain Head from Bondcliff, New Hampshire
Owl's Head Mountain Fire August 17, 1907 – During the late 1800s and early 1900s, logging activities from railroad logging contributed to a number of forest fires in the New Hampshire White Mountains. Sparks from locomotives were responsible for starting fires along the railroads. And the logging slash (unwanted part of the tree left behind after an area is logged) left on the mountainsides fueled the forest fires.
The infamous August 1907 Owl’s Head Mountain fire in the Pemigewasset Wilderness was started by a lightning strike on the eastern side of Owl’s Head Mountain in an area that had been previously logged by J.E. Henry and Sons. The included color photographs show the general area of where the forest fire took place.
The First Trestle 7 – Courtesy of the Upper Pemigewasset Historical Society
East Branch & Lincoln Railroad, Trestle No. 7 – During the days of the East Branch & Lincoln (EB&L) Railroad, there were two trestles built at this crossing of Franconia Brook (above). And each trestle serviced different areas of the railroad in today’s Pemigewasset Wilderness. The first trestle 7, known as the original trestle 7, seen above, was unique because horses used the lower deck to cross the brook.
The first trestle was built in the early 1900s, probably 1902, and it serviced the Franconia Brook and Lincoln Brook Branches of the railroad. It was used until around 1911. The second trestle was built, probably in 1905, just below the first one and it was abandoned in 1947. And it serviced the Upper East Branch of the railroad (the area surrounding the East and North Fork branches of the Pemigewasset River).