A historical echo of Maine’s lumbering past can be seen in the Northern Maine Woods in the Allagash Wilderness. Abandoned in the 1930’s, two steam locomotives remain in their final resting spot in a clearing in the Northern Maine Woods next to Eagle Lake.
The locomotives were part of the Eagle Lake & West Branch Railroad and were used from 1927 to 1933. When the railroad ceased operations, both locomotives were considered obsolete and too expensive to transport out of the woods, and were left stored in a shed where they sit today. The shed has since been burned, but many echoes of the rich history of this logging operation can still be seen scattered throughout the woods surrounding the locomotives.
Getting to the trains can be challenging, as you drive along dirt roads for hours. The hike to the trains is an easy 45 minutes, although it can be wet at times. Trees reclaim the railroad tracks that lead you straight to the locomotives, which is your first clue you are getting close. As you get closer to the locomotives you will see a track switcher, boiler, and miscellaneous barrels, wheels and pulley systems. Looking ahead at the clearing at the end of the tracks, you will then see the looming iron ghosts of Maine’s historical past.
The two locomotives sit in a well maintained clearing. You can climb on them and in them and admire the iron construction of the early 1900’s. Then you can head towards a raised up bar of ground next to the lake, around 40 feet away, and be prepared to be amazed all over again. Two long rows of cars sit abandoned on two side-by side tracks right next to the lake. While the wooden sides are mostly deteriorated, all of the iron still remains. Twenty-eight cars were counted based on how many hitches there were (56 total, front and back)- quite a sight to behold. Between the row of cars and the lake sit two concrete structures and what appears to be a pulley system. Watch this video walk-through of the abandoned rail cars that were hauled by the locomotives.
The entire experience was far more than expected. It was almost like trying to reconstruct a historical crime scene- guessing what large iron piece connected to where for what purpose. If you have any interest in history, mechanics, engineering or trains, this is a trip you will truly appreciate. It’s an easy hike that offers a whole lot more than a pair of locomotives in the woods!