The Sawyer River Railroad was chartered by the Saunders family in 1875. The Saunders owned the vast old-growth forest in the Sawyer River valley, and had just founded the new village of Livermore with a large sawmill. The railway bought its first locomotive new in late 1876.
Construction began in 1877, beginning with the 2 miles between Livermore and the Portland and Ogdensburg Railway. The railway was expanded into the woods beginning in 1880 to bring fresh cut logs to the mill. The railway never had a passenger car, but Livermore's residents would ride on the locomotive's slopeback tender.
As was typical for logging railways of the era, the construction was cheap and accidents were frequent. The lone locomotive on the line suffered 33 derailments and repeatedly needed a new cab or a new tender. In 1920, an especially bad fall into the river occurred and the locomotive was replaced.
The railway lasted a long time for a logging line, until a major flood destroyed all but 4 miles in 1927. By that time, the valley had been heavily logged out anyway. All rail traffic ceased in 1928. The railway was disassembled in the mid 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps.