Eagle Lake Tramway – Northwest Piscataquis, Maine - Atlas Obscura

Northwest Piscataquis, Maine

Eagle Lake Tramway

Steam engines and conveyor belts are remnants of a genius system left in the middle of the Maine woods. 

If you were to stumble on the tracks, or rusted iron wrecks it would certainty be a mystery. But this railway running straight through the forest of Maine, are remnants of a once genius system.

At the turn of the century northern Maine was a hub of the logging industry. Between Eagle Lake and Chamberlain Lake, though, the rivers did not flow in the right direction. But rather than ferry boards down the river to the larger Chamberlain Lake, from which they could be sent to larger ports, the engineers devised another, much more ingenious system.

In the winter of 1901, parts were hauled north to construct the Eagle Lake Tramway. The Eagle Lake Tramway was an engineering marvel. Using steam power, the tramway circulated 6000 feet of cable hauling steel trucks loaded with lumber through the forest of Maine. When the tramway arrived at lower lake, the lumber was unloaded, and the cable with the empty trucks looped to a lower track and circled back to its origin trundling through the Maine trees. However by 1909, the forest had been cut down, and the paper industry had moved on. The tramway was left where it lay, to slowly fall apart and be absorbed back into the Maine forest.

While much of the tramway has disintegrated or been carried off by someone in need of a part, remains of the steam engine still litter the forest floor and the tracks can still be seen in the woods of rural Maine. The Tramway is on the National Register of Historic Places.

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