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.
Swift River Railroad (1906-1916) – Albany, New Hampshire
Abandoned Railroad Beds, White Mountains – It is hard to imagine that from the late 1800s to the early 1900s railroading was a way of life in the New Hampshire White Mountains, and timber barons dominated. You would think that after all these years no evidence of this era would exist, but it does. If you are a conservation or environmental photographer, some part of the White Mountains railroading era will interest you.
The historic railroads in the White Mountains are a common topic among hikers and history buffs. And as an environmental photographer I have been able to find interesting subject matter along all the railroads I have explored. One area of the railroads I have focused on is the actual railroad beds.
East Branch & Lincoln Railroad – Abandoned Railroad Track
East Branch & Lincoln Railroad – The East Branch & Lincoln Railroad, built by timber baron James E. Henry, was a logging railroad that operated from 1893-1948 in the New Hampshire towns of Lincoln and Franconia. Much of the railroad was in the area we know today as the Pemigewasset Wilderness. If you venture into the Pemi, from the Lincoln Woods Trail, you will be walking the railroad bed of of Henry’s railroad.
During its existence, the East Branch & Lincoln Railroad was sold to the Parker Young Company and then to the Marcalus Manufacturing Company. The railroad was considered the "elite logging railroad" during the 19th & 20th century White Mountains logging era. And towards the end of its lifespan truck logging played a role in the logging operations.