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The Conway Scenic Railroad Trip 6/23/2015

by Chris Guenzler

We woke up to pouring down rain as the moisture from former Tropical Depression Bill finally hit New Hampshire. So with a morning free I finished the Hobo story before we left the Perry Motel. I had two Maple Bars for my breakfast at Dunkin Donuts before we drove to the Conway Scenic Railroad and parked in the overflow lot.

Boston & Maine F7A 4268 at North Conway.

Conway Scenic Railroad History

The Conway Scenic Railroad (reporting mark CSRX) is a heritage railway in North Conway, New Hampshire, United States. The railroad operates over two historic railway routes: a line from North Conway to Conway that was formerly part of the Conway Branch of the Boston and Maine Railroad, and a line from North Conway through Crawford Notch to Fabyan that was once part of the Mountain Division of the Maine Central Railroad. The Conway line is owned by Conway Scenic, and the Mountain Division is owned by the State of New Hampshire. Russ Seybold is owner and president of the Conway Scenic.

The railroad's main terminal is located in historic downtown North Conway in the Mount Washington valley. The station complex has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1979.


The railroad operates excursions of varying duration under two banners - the "Valley Train" which runs either south to Conway (55 minute round trip) or north to Bartlett (1 3/4 hour round trip), and the "Notch Train" covering the line through Crawford Notch. The Valley Train excursions include the dining car Chocorua, the 1898 open-deck Pullman observation car Gertrude Emma, an open-air car, and several restored heavyweight coaches, some dating back to the 1920s. The Notch Train service is typically a 5 hour round trip to Crawford Depot (located at the height of land in Crawford Notch), but is extended to 5.5 hours during the fall foliage season when the train travels all the way to Fabyan Station, located near Bretton Woods in the town of Carroll. The Notch Train includes an open-air car (Silver Cascade), a vista dome car (Dorthea Mae), a first-class car ( Carroll P. Reed), and commuter coaches retired from the Montreal commuter pool. In 2010, a dining car, named Hattie Evans, was added to the train. Annual special events at the railroad include Day Out with Thomas, a Railfan Weekend in late September, Polar Express-themed trips during December, and a Steam in the Snow" photographer's special in early January sponsored by the Massachusetts Bay Railroad Enthusiasts.

Special freight operation

On June 20, 2009, a 20-axle Schnabel car was brought down through Crawford Notch carrying a 227-ton transformer for Public Service of New Hampshire, an electrical utility company. It was the first scheduled freight train through Crawford Notch since September 3, 1983, and the first and only revenue freight move for the Conway Scenic to date.

Our Visit

The first thing I did was pick up our tickets for the Notch Train. Now I would look around the North Conway yard and roundhouse. I soon found NRHS members Greg Molloy and Don who were also here doing the same thing.

The North Conway Roundhouse.

North Conway scene.

The train at the North Conway station.

Our train before the power runs around to the north end.

North Conway Scenic GP-38 216 which would be powering our Notch Train.

The old High Ball Signal in North Conway. Now we will see the cars of our train.

Conway Scenic Railroad open air car Silver Cascade 1308 that all four of us NRHS members would be riding for the trip today.

Conway Scenic Railroad coach Mount Bemis 6739.

Conway Scenic Railroad Coach Carrol R Reed 3234.

Conway Scenic Railroad Dining Car Hattie Evans 492.

Conway Scenic Railroad Coach 6740 Mount Webster.

New Hampshire Railroad GE 44 Toner 360.

Conway Scenic Railroad GP-9 1751.

Conway Scenic Railroad RDC 23.

Conway Scenic Railroad 2-8-2 501.

Conway Scenic Railroad turntable scenes.

Maine Central combine 418.

Conway Scenic Railroad wedge snowplow.

Inside the roundhouse was Boston & Maine 4266.

Conway Scenic Railroad turntable scene.

Conway Scenic Railroad GP-38 252.

Conway Scenic Railroad roundhouse.

Conway Scenic Railroad turntable scenes.

The Conway Scenic Railroad wig wag road crossing signal.

The Conway Scenic Railroad station. We will look around after the train ride. We boarded the train and walked into the open car and soon Greg and Don joined Robin and I.

The engine will not couple up until departure time so the train will not block the parking lot grade crossing.

The Trip

With a hearty "All aboard" the train started to move.

The Conway Scenic Railroad Notch Train is leaving North Conway.

The High Ball Signal at North Conway.

The train has left the North Conway station behind.

Boston & Maine milepost 11.

We are only on a short section of old Boston & Maine tracks until we reach the Maine Central tracks at Maine Jct.

Maine Jct. The rest of our trip will be over the old Maine Central Mountain Division tracks.

The tracks are straight and true.

Maine Central Milepost P81. The P is the distance from Portland, Maine.

The rain is not letting up on a stormy New Hampshire morning.

The train crossed a creek.

The train ran by the Theater in the Woods.

The train took a curve along the Saco River.

The split Glacial Erratic Boulder. This is one of the largest Glacial Erratic Boulders in the world.

Two views of the Saco River.

Looking back along the Saco River.

The Saco River.

The train curving through the woods of New Hampshire.

The Glen Maine Central station.

Crossing of the Saco River on the first iron.

Crossing of the Saco River on the second iron.

The train took this slight curve.

Passing Milepost P87.

The train passed one hopper car along with three passenger cars in a siding just east of Bartlett.

The train passed the switch before crossing Bartlett Brook.

The train is passing the Bartlett Maine Central station.

The Bartlett Maine Central station.

Wedge snowplow at the Bartlett roundhouse.

A Maine Central outside braced box car 30359.

The back of the Bartlett roundhouse.

Crossing US Highway 302.

A beaver dam in the Saco River.

The train crossed Bear Notch Creek.

The grade starts as we leave the Conway Valley for Crawford Notch.

The train crossed the Saco River on the third iron.

Rolling up the grade through the New Hampshire White Mountain National Forest.

The train passed milepost sign P75.

The Saco River on this rainy Tuesday late morning in New Hampshire.

Looking back down the grade.

The train crossed the Saco River on the fourth iron.

The train came to another siding.

We ran by a Maine Central Section House.

Click here for Part 2 of this story