Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Eagle Lake & West Branch Railroad

The two 100 ton locomotives in the woods.
  If a person were to hike the Allagash Region of The County (Aroostook) you will find relics of a bygone era.  Walking through the woods and all of a sudden you'd be faced with two 100 ton locomotives.  Those and a few tracks and some loose lumber are all that is left of a boom time lumber operation.
  Back in the 1920's lumbermen needed a way to get logs from the area to the West Branch of the Penobscot River to be "rafted" to the Bangor area sawmills.  There was, already in place, the Tramway which used Lombard Haulers to pull loads part of the distance.  The Tramway operated from Umbazooksus Lake which connects to the West Branch through Chamberlain Lake, but there were problems with fueling the engines and breakdowns. Enter Edouard "King" Lacroix and his Madawaska Company and the birth of a railroad.
  Two locomotives were converted from coal to oil and a 1500 foot trestle was built for part of the right of way.  At each end there were gasoline engines (small train engines) to turn the cars around and they were towed back to be refilled.
  Logs were lifted by two conveyor belts, run by gasoline engines, logs lifted from Eagle Lake were loaded onto the rail cars.  A car could be loaded in 90 seconds with 12 cords of logs, 40 car trains were then sent down the line.
  By 1933 the operation was over, now a network of private roads and large trucks, without weight limits, carry logs to mills.
  The locomotives and other equipment were just "tossed aside".
One of the small engines for turning cars around.
The conveyors loading cars with logs.
Engine 4 - photo by James Patten
For more information look to the website Department of Conservation, Parks History.
All photos, except the bottom, are from the Maine Department of Conservation.
More reading:
While writing about the Trails in past couple of weeks I often cautioned about "Mud Season", I stand corrected.  The new signs say "Trails are closed due to Saturated Soils".  So I guess we no longer have mud pies only saturation soil quiche. :)
  Speaking of saturated soil, Maine route 15 a busy connector from Bangor/Brewer to Bucksport and the Coastal US Route 1 was flooded last night a closed to traffic for a few hours.  A breach in a beaver dam in Orrington was the problem, the water washed out part of one road and part of the railroad tracks that run next to the highway.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Climbing Mount Washington

Here it is in Winter
  Way back, a long time ago for me, I climbed Mount Washington.  It was a day in early summer, the gardens were planted, freshly weeded too, the sheep were in pasture so didn't require much human care.  I was 11 or 12 years old, so that makes 1952-1953, one of those.
  A local farmer, and family friend, David Gale was our leader.  Davids father and my Dads father were close friends, now it would be BBF I guess.  My Dad called Davids father Uncle Fred - so it was a family thing in spirit.
  I believe we rode in the back of a pickup truck, along with our blankets and change of clothes, from Lebanon, Maine to Mount Washington, that's maybe 75 miles, or less.  We stayed at a campground in a New Hampshire State Park overnight.  In the morning David woke us up early and while we ate (I don't remember what) we decided to swim in the partially dammed up stream.  We all jumped in about the same time, and the reaction was all the same too.  The water was from snow melt in Tuckermans Ravine on the mountain - cold, cold, and colder - colder than the ocean in Maine I think.  After that we all had enough energy to climb.
Tuckermans Ravine in winter
  We climbed up on a common trail, it wasn't hard at all, just long.  Reaching the top on a clear day, I still remember, you really can see 110 miles to the ocean.  Oh my goodness what a sight!  And to top off our visit to the top we got a small tour of the weather station.  Oh, and it was cold up there, and we were ready to head back down - the Tuckerman Ravine trail.  The trail was steep and rocky but there wasn't much snow left at that point, but the middle part in the photo still had quite a bit.  We walked down about 10 or 12 miles, which is a long walk for a mountain that's one mile high.  We didn't swim in that stream again either.
  The next morning it was back in the truck home to weed the gardens and move the fences for my three sheep from place to place.  But, I still remember the time we climbed Mount Washington.
Here we are, that's me with the dog.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

It's time to walk!

  I have listed most of the trails with information to share that are more than 1 or 2 miles long, there are a bunch of those.  Also I have not listed segments of the Eastern Trail (Kittery to Portland) because I'm waiting to do more reading. So! No more walking stuff (not really).
  I found, by accident, nice photos and information on a State Park in New York, it's in western NY state and it's called Letchworth State Park,  the State of New York sub-titles it the "Grand Canyon of the East".
Upper Falls
  This appears to be a very large park, ample camping sites and a lodge.  By looking at the photos I found it absolutely gorgeous and would like to visit, and that's a maybe.
  It also appears that the trails are hilly and there are some seemingly steep stairs - of course I haven't eyeballed them in person.
  I'm guessing it's a maybe ten hour drive from Portland, Maine by taking US route 20 west from Albany, through some great county I might add.  I don't know about other places and distances because I don't know where all of our readers live (there have been over 70,000 page views - just some pages over time and certainly not every days blogs).
Middle Falls
Middle Falls trail, looks inviting to me.
Lower Falls trail - see what I mean about stairs?
  So, there you have it, Google "Letchworth State Park" and you can find.  Thanks go to the State of New York State Parks folks, and to the State of New York Parks for the photos.
  I'm going for a walk soon - it's 2:45AM now time for breakfast and walking.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Kennebec River Rail Trail

A 'Capital' idea!
  If you were to walk this trail from the South, the entry to the Maine State Capital Building in Augusta is terrific.  The trail uses parts of bed where tracks used to be, and runs parallels an
existing, but unused, railroad track.  The entire route, six and a half miles, is very near the River.  The trail is very well
maintained, but wait for mud season to end (soon, maybe).
  When you look up this trail on you may find the northern end extends farther than the article says, the trail now ends near the Maine State Housing Agency office building.
  Lace up!  Try some of these trails and stay in shape, walking is fun.
A great surface to walk on.
Mile markers too.
An open invitation!
Photos from where you'll find more info

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Cobscook Bay State Park

What a place to see the sunrise - click please
  There are trails in the park, but more in the area - I've read maybe 120 miles of trails.   In the park the trails are about 9 miles in length, but what a setting for a walk, raw ocean frontage, rocky and steep in some parts.  Be careful of playing near the water the tides here rise and fall about 24 feet.
  So, if you want to go for a ride and take some hikes why not here in beautiful Washington County?
This one has me thinking, what the heck I'm a geezer and can get in free.
Trails are the "dotted" lines
The tide is out in this fall photo
The easiest way to find more information is to use Google, the is an informative site but you have to go through a bunch of hoops to get where you want to be.
  Today is the first day of Spring, lace up!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Whistle Stop Rail Trail

Lace up!
  Here we have the Whistle Stop, 13 miles from North Jay to Farmington.  There is one whole bunch to see while on this trail; everything from a granite quarry to beaver habitat.  In this hilly environment a rail trail is the most level way to go, slight inclines and downgrades are helpful, unless you're a rock climber.
  The trail is sandy, watch out for mud season, more suited to walking than a bicycle.  There are several bridges and trestles that have been re-decked by local snowmobile clubs.
Back in the day the North Jay Quarry kept the tracks busy.
A section of the trail.
One of the re-decked trestles.
Wilson Stream viewed from a trestle.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Southern Bangor-Aroostook Trail

Now, that's a trail
  This 37 mile trail runs from London Road in Houlton to the Phair Junction on the outskirts of Presque Isle.
  On parts of this trail logging trucks can also use it, walkers need to give way to motor vehicles (that's pretty obvious, isn't it?).  The trail is used by hikers, walkers, bicycles and ATVs.
  You would pass through Monticello, Bridgewater, Blaine and Mars Hill and maybe some I've left out of the list.  At the northern end of the trail it is possible to connect to the Bangor-Aroostook Trail that I wrote about a few days ago.
  Wait for the mud to dry and get going!  As always please see for more information.
The square in Houlton, some of the best looking
brick buildings I've seen.
It's over the old Trestle Bridge in Monticello
A part of downtown Mars Hill - where the windmills are.