New images: Allagash Wilderness Waterway and the Lacroix Locomotives (with directions), Maine
There are not a lot of places where you can be hiking through a remote forest and suddenly stumble upon huge, rusting, but otherwise well-preserved, steam locomotives, stuck one hundred miles from the closest modern track. One of the things that makes the Allagash so interesting is the possibility to discover remnants from a bygone lumber industry in unexpected places.
The locomotives were part of a short railroad, build by Edouard Lacroix in the mid twenties against all odds, that was used to solve the problem that the adjacent rivers flowed North, to Canada, while they wanted to float the logs to mills in Millinocket. Half a decade later, by 1930, the area was logged off, and the railroad stopped operations.
courtesy Jean Lacroix / www.cumberlandinc.com
When I asked in Greenville and Millinocket, nobody knew the exact location. However, once I traveled North, past the Teleos checkpoint, everybody that I asked (a checkpoint clerk, a ranger, and a forestry worker) was aware of it. Terry Harper, who has personally worked on the locomotives, provides precise directions to the locomotives (including GPS coordinates) in Railroad.net. Since I’ve used a slightly different route, I’ll provide my own below, including coordinates for the locomotives themselves.
You *need* to get the new Delorme Atlas for Maine. Since I respect copyrights, I won’t reproduce the relevant sections here. On the atlas, the site of the Lacroix Locomotives is clearly marked on Map 55 as “Tramway”, on the shores of Eagle Lake. If you have a canoe, you can get from within 100 yards of the locomotives from Eagle Lake. Otherwise, it is a 2 mile hike. I had a rental Ford Focus (a regular car), which was enough to make it to the trailhead, but in the area everybody else was driving trucks. The secondary roads were slightly overgrown, but not overly wet or rutted.
To get to the trailhead, drive Golden Road, then Teleos Road (checkpoint) to Chamberlain Bridge (there is a ranger station there). On the map, it’s quite clear that you need to follow Grande Marche Rd, but on the terrain, since the roads are not marked, it can be a bit confusing. The road through John’s Bridge is longer, and according to the checkpoint clerk, less well maintained. Follow the signs for the “Loon Lodge” until a T-junction where the road to the lodge is on your left, but you’ll continue straight. You will soon cross a bridge over the Allagash Creek. Continue about a mile, then take the first unmaintained road on your right, and then after slightly more than a mile, the first road on your right again. Drive until the road is blocked by boulders, or maybe 1/4 mile past that point if you can squeeze in, and park your car (N46 20.176′, W069 23.948′) before the road becomes too overgrown.
Walk on the road for less than a mile. You will see a trail on your left (N46 19.777′ W069 23.436′). The trail is fairly faint and unmaintained, but if you are an experienced hiker, you will be able to follow it. When I was there, the whole trail was marked with tape, making it fairly easy to follow, but Terry warns you that you should not trust tape. You will intersect railroad tracks twice at a short interval. The second time, make a left. The locomotives are in a clearing (N46 19.360′ W069 22.550′).
If I was to come back, I’d get there earlier than I did, since there are quite a few artifacts to explore in the area. I started to hike in the afternoon, and left the locomotives half an hour before sunset. It was getting dark in the forest, which was kind of scary since the trail was not that easy to see, and despite the short hike, the area felt remote (I didn’t meet anybody after leaving the main road). The North woods are not a place you want to be lost, but with a bit of care, they can provide personal discoveries.