George Johnson, originally from Monroe, NH arrived in the Lincoln area about 1901, when he purchased the sawmill site that had belonged to Frank Hall. From what we know, there was no sawmill on the site at the time and Johnson proceeded to build one. He also eventually built a town which he called Johnson. It had a post office (guess who was the post master) and the town appeared on several turn of the century maps of the region. The town was about where the Indian Head Resort is today.
Map of Johnson, NH, 1892 Hurd Atlas of New Hampshire
Click on the map for a larger view
Johnson also operated a second saw mill, which he leased and then purchased from the Publisher's Paper Company, along the Lost River Road (today's Rt.112). That mill was where the Lost River Campground is today.
Johnson built and operated a logging railroad, known at the Gordon Pond Railroad. The Gordon Pond Railroad was incorporated in 1907 and it's track was leased from the Boston and Maine Railroad, which served the valley's tourist trade. (Logging railroads provided a profitable flow of freight for the B&M, so they often leased track and other equipment to the loggers.) The Gordon Pond Railroad eventually owned about 15 miles of track, mostly to the west of the Pemigewasset River, although some track did run in the direction of Indian Head and the Flume. Johnson's land holdings extended to what is now the Lost River Reserve and he finally agreed to halt his logging in that area and sell that land to The Society for The Preservation of New Hampshire Forests, which still owns and operates it.
Shay Engine used on Johnson's Gordon Pond Railroad, UPHS
Johnson's first mill was capable of cutting 65,000 feet of lumber daily. His logging railroad operated four Shay geared locomotives. His company town had a post office, store, school and several houses for employees. Johnson, NH was shortlived, and very little of it survives today. The schoolhouse has been moved and is today a private residence. Logging was over by 1915 and the mill burned in that year and the rails were taken up that year. During it's short life, the Johnson Lumber Company cut about 150 million board feet lumber.
Johnson's Lost River Mill was sold to the Mattson Flooring Company in 1912. Earlier, in 1909, Johnson sold timberland to Edwin Mattson, a flooring manufacturer from Pennsylvania. Mattson built a large kiln to dry lumber north of LIncoln , along Georgiana Brook, (significant remnants of this kiln can still be seen today), and a mill to produce hardwood flooring. He also built homes for his workers and a mill to produce wagon wheel hubs, known as The Pennsylvania Hub Co. Remnants of this mill can also be found in the woods today. Mattson apparently ran out of suitable hardwood for his operations and these operations were short-lived.
More information on George Johnson, his Johnson Lumber Company, his Gordon Pond Railroad, and the Mattson enterprises can be found in Bill Gove's "Logging Railroads Along The Pemigewasset River".
Photos of the Johnson Lumber Company and the Gordon Pond Railroad
Do you have any photographs, documents, or other information about this town and mill? We'd love to hear from you. Use the email link on the left.
Photo at the top of the page is cropped from a postcard of the Mill and log pile.