Author Topic: Eagle Lake & West Branch *PICS*  (Read 97502 times)

James Patten

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Eagle Lake & West Branch *PICS*
« on: July 20, 2010, 05:26:38 PM »
One of my co-workers over the 4th of July weekend took a trip down the Allagash Waterway and visited the site of the locomotives of the former Eagle Lake & West Branch railroad.  The Railroad was built in the late 1920s and operated for only a few years.  It replaced a tramway which hauled logs from Eagle to Chamberlain lake.  The railroad ran from Eagle to Umbazooksus lake.  These structures were built to move lumber from the Allagash Waterway, which flowed north into Aroostook county (and into the St. John which drained into Canada) and instead moved the lumber south onto the Penobscot river (the West Branch of the Penobscot for the railroad, the East Branch for the tramway).

The Maine Forest Service burned down all the wooden structures on the Allagash in the 60s, including the shed that these locomotives were in.  Over the years the engines started to tilt over as the ground under them settled.  About 10 years ago a group of people started working to right the engines, hauling in all supplies (including 5-gallon buckets of ballast) by snowmobile in the winter.  The Maine Forest Service is turning this area into a display, including plans to restore a small portion of the tramway.

The equipment was left in-situ, and over the years the forest has regrown around things.


The track is now a path.


Locomotive #1, a 2-8-0 from I think the New York Central.


Locomotive #2, I'm not sure where it was from.  It had a wooden cab which burned in the fire.


The tramway remnants (on the left of the picture).


So how does this tie in with the WW&F?

About a dozen years ago, when Fred Morse joined the museum, he told us about seeing rail lying on the side of a logging road up in the north Maine woods.  He may have even seen it lying on the ground when he and his family were hunting in the woods as a child.  The search started to find out who we needed to contact and if we could get the rail.

The ownership search ended up being an essentially dead-end, but the story doesn't end there.  Sometime around 10 years ago, Harry Crooker (owner of Harry Crooker & Sons) was either approached by us or approached us with rail to donate.  Turns out this rail was from the Eagle Lake and West Branch!  Additionally he had one of the Plymouth locomotives that was also used on the line.  We could not take it, I don't know what happened to it.

You don't need to use a canoe to reach these locations, you can drive a car to within one mile of it, and then hike in.  I believe someone in our group led several people up to the locos several years ago.

You can find out a little bit more about the area at this site: http://www.maine.gov/doc/parks/history/allagash/rr.htm

John Kokas

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Re: Eagle Lake & West Branch *PICS*
« Reply #1 on: July 20, 2010, 08:37:53 PM »
If I know my RR law, following abandonment the land use and any improvements would revert to the original landowners.  Since over time the "landowner" is now the state of Maine due to it being a state park.  I would recommend talking to your local state rep and senator and if possible the Gov's office and request the donation of the rail to the museum.  We would most likely have to go hunt it down and bring it out.
Moxie Bootlegger

Ed Lecuyer

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Re: Eagle Lake & West Branch *PICS*
« Reply #2 on: July 20, 2010, 08:58:58 PM »
I believe both engines are ex-NYC.
As far as any rail that is still there - in my opinion, it should be left there.
Ed Lecuyer
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Bill Sample

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Re: Eagle Lake & West Branch *PICS*
« Reply #3 on: July 20, 2010, 09:33:45 PM »
I had the pleasure of visiting that area about 10 years ago - looks better now that it did then.  We flew in so we could see a bit of the rail line where it crossed a swampy area - rail dipped  into the water from the remnants of an old trestle.

John McNamara

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Re: Eagle Lake & West Branch *PICS*
« Reply #4 on: July 20, 2010, 09:50:38 PM »
Some years ago, Fred, Jason, and I went on an exploratory trip up there. We found a rail pile along the side of Grande Marche Road in area 5E of DeLorme Atlas Map 55. We were unsuccessful in finding out anything about it. The folks in a local lumber camp could only speak French (or at least acted that way). We also followed some of the rails in nearby woods, but it was very, very difficult going. When I visited Grande Marche Road the next year, the rail pile was gone.
 

Keith Taylor

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Re: Eagle Lake & West Branch *PICS*
« Reply #5 on: July 21, 2010, 05:30:26 AM »
I believe both engines are ex-NYC.
As far as any rail that is still there - in my opinion, it should be left there.
Ed, Eagle Lake No.1 was never a NYC engine, it was built in 1897 by the Schenectady Locomotive Works for the Chicago, Hammond and Western.
Keith

Stephen Hussar

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Re: Eagle Lake & West Branch *PICS*
« Reply #6 on: July 21, 2010, 06:02:26 AM »
Thanks for posting the pictures. I've always been fascinated with this and have always wanted to go up there. The section between Humason and Trask is built with rail from Eagle Lake/Crooker...correct?

Dave Buczkowski

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Re: Eagle Lake & West Branch *PICS*
« Reply #7 on: July 21, 2010, 08:34:25 AM »
John;
     You are only partially correct in your assumption about ownership of abandoned R.O.W. First, abandonment is a technical term not necessrilly tied to not using it for a period of time. If the RR owned the land in fee (i.e. purchased it) it would not revert to the abutting owners unless the RR deeded it back. If the railroad had done a taking of an easement (in the legal sense) it indeed would revert back to the abuttting owners upon abandonment. My analysis is based on Massachusetts law but Maine common law is similar due, in part, to it having once been part of the Commonwealth.
Dave

Ed Deere

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Re: Eagle Lake & West Branch *PICS*
« Reply #8 on: July 21, 2010, 07:05:34 PM »
     In 2006 My wife & I, with friends, made the trip to see the forgotten trains of the Eagle Lake and West Branch Railroad. I would recommend the trip but, do your homework first. I have just put on You Tube just a few photos that I thought folks might like to see. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8G2LMPOqFlk


Terry Harper

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Re: Eagle Lake & West Branch *PICS*
« Reply #9 on: July 26, 2010, 08:15:29 PM »
Hi folks,

Spent a lot of time investigating the EL&WB and climbing in, over and literally under the locomotives. (I headed up the effort to jack the locomotives out of the mud and reconstruct the roadbed) The railroad ceased operations in September 1933. It was never chartered. The 13 miles from Eagle Lake to Umbazooksus was constructed and operated by Lacroix's Madawaska Co. The lower 5 miles from Umbazooksus to Chesuncook Meadows was built by Great Northern paper. In the 1960's (I can't recall the exact date) Lacroix sold his holdings including the railroad to Irving Pulp and Paper - they then deeded the tramway area to the state of Maine to become part of the Allagash wilderness.

Interestingly this caused quite a stir because the deed to the state indicated that it was the whole 13 miles of right of way was being handed over to the state - needless to say the other land owners were a bit concerned!

The right of way today is owned by a hodge podge of owners with Seven Island being the most prominent. They consider the old roadbed to be of historical significance and are quite careful not to cut it over. Most of the rail from the trestle south has been removed with the exception of about 1/2 mile still in place at Umbazooksus.

It would be nice if what does remain stays in place.

For more information see my posting here:http://www.railroad.net/forums/viewtopic.php?f=126&t=47550&p=652667#p652667

Also my article that appeared in the "Narrow Gauge and Shortline Gazette (July/August 2007)

Duncan Mackiewicz

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Re: Eagle Lake & West Branch *PICS*
« Reply #10 on: July 27, 2010, 10:53:12 AM »
Great info Terry.  I went both forward and backward on the link you provided and there are some great other pics as well as informative reading.  Thanks for sharing your experiences. 
I first became aware of these locos through a co-worker who has a hobby of canoeing and hiking the back woods of Maine.  He stumbled across the locos and the remains of the trestlework over the lake.  He shared his "find" with me knowing I enjoy all things railroad and wondering if I could shed light on his "find".  Later, I found a book with a nice article and pictures of the same area (book not with me at this moment so the name is lost for now).  I was then able to explain what had been found to my co-worker but the whole thing simply fueled my interest.  Since I am unlikely to get to that area to view the remains first-hand this whole thread has become quite interesting to me.

Stephen Hussar

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Re: Eagle Lake & West Branch *PICS*
« Reply #11 on: July 27, 2010, 11:23:43 AM »
Terry, the story about the locos being pulled across the frozen lakes by Lombard is well known, and was first told to me by Albert Hale, who photographed the remains of the operation in the 1960's. Can you elaborate on why you think this story is not true? And how you came to doubt the story, etc.

Thanks!
Stephen
« Last Edit: July 28, 2010, 10:52:15 AM by Stephen Hussar »

Keith Taylor

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Re: Eagle Lake & West Branch *PICS*
« Reply #12 on: July 27, 2010, 05:13:10 PM »
Stephen, the story I heard....as well as being common practise in logging territory was the locomotives were run there under their own power on temporary tracks laid on the frozen lake. Why pull them with a Lombard, when you are going to have to build temporary tracks anyhow? You don't want to haul them with all of the weight on the flanges, so they would either have to build tracks, or drag them on gigantic sledges. I wonder how  successful a Lombard would be dragging something that heavy with the friction of a gigantic flat bottomed sled? (I don't think they make sled runners big enough to support that much weight)If you are building tracks anyhow....then just fire up the locos and run them.
Keith

Ed Deere

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Re: Eagle Lake & West Branch *PICS*
« Reply #13 on: July 28, 2010, 04:28:25 AM »
Check out the photos in this link. you will find #2 in two halfs (upper and lower) behind a Lombard.

http://news.webshots.com/album/87490988zpckXX

Ed--

Keith Taylor

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Re: Eagle Lake & West Branch *PICS*
« Reply #14 on: July 28, 2010, 09:43:14 AM »
NEAT!!! Did you notice the halves are on sleds?
Keith