Axe Head – Livermore, New Hampshire
Identifying Historical Artifacts, White Mountains – If you are picking up trash in the New Hampshire White Mountains during the 2020 human impact issue, please educate yourself about historical artifacts and the laws that protect them. I now know of two instances where do-gooders picking up trash removed artifacts, thinking they were trash, from the White Mountain National Forest.
Many of the metal objects (horseshoes, metal strapping, railroad spikes, stoves, tins, etc.), glass bottles, trestle remains, and numerous other objects along the White Mountains trail system are protected artifacts. These artifacts should be left where you found them; they help tell the story of the early settlers, farming communities, and logging railroads that once were in the White Mountains. The included photos show some of the various artifacts you could come across while out hiking.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.