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The Conway Scenic Railroad Trip 6/23/2015

by Chris Guenzler

Robin and I woke up to pouring 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 driving to the Conway Scenic Railroad and parked in the overflow lot.

Boston & Maine F7A 4268A, built by Electro-Motive Division in 1949 at North Conway.

Conway Scenic Railroad History

The Conway Scenic Railroad (reporting mark CSRX) is a heritage railway in North Conway. 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 five 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 open-air car "Silver Cascade", vista dome car "Dorthea Mae", first-class car "Carroll P. Reed" and commuter coaches retired from the Montreal commuter pool. In 2010 a dining car, "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

I first picked up our tickets for the Notch Train then decided to look around the yard and roundhouse and soon found NRHS members Greg Molloy and his friend Don who were also here for the same reason.

The North Conway roundhouse built by the Portsmouth, Great Falls and Conway Railroad in 1874.

North Conway scene.

The train at the former Boston and Maine North Conway station built in 1874.

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

North Conway Scenic GP35 216, ex. Pan Am 216, exx. Guilford 216, exxx. Norfolk Southern, 1328 nee Norfolk and Western 1328, built by Electro-Motive Division in 1965, which would be powering our Notch Train.

The old high ball signal. Now we will see the cars of our train.

Conway Scenic Railroad open air car 1308 "Silver Cascade", nee Central of New Jersey 1308 built by Pressed Steel in 1931. All four of us NRHS members would be riding in this car today.

Conway Scenic Railroad coach 6739 "Mount Bemis", nee Canadian National coach-trailer T1 built by Canadian Car and Foundry in 1952.

Conway Scenic Railroad dome car 1329 "Dorthea Mae", ex. Cape Cod Railroad 1993, exx. Amtrak 9469, exxx. Burlington Northern 4609 (not applied), nee Great Northern 1329 built by Budd in 1955.

Conway Scenic Railroad snack bar-coach 3234 "Carrol R. Reed", ex. VIA 3234, nee Canadian National coach 5465, built by Canadian Car and Foundry in 1954.

Conway Scenic Railroad dining car 492 "Hattie Evans", nee Norfolk and Western 492, built by Pullman-Standard in 1948.

Conway Scenic Railroad Coach 6749 "Mount Webster", nee Canadian National coach-trailer T11 built by Canadian Car and Foundry in 1952.

New Hampshire Railroad 44 ton switcher 360 built by General Electric in 1942 and owned by the State of New Hampshire.

Conway Scenic Railroad GP9 1751, ex. Finger Lakes Railway 1971, exx. Buffalo and Pittsburgh 207, exxx. Baltimore and Ohio 6677, nee Chesapeake and Ohio 6128, built by Electro-Motive Division in 1965 and acquired in 2012 in a trade with Finger Lakes Railway.

Conway Scenic Railroad RDC-1 23, nee New York, New Haven and Hartford 23 built by Budd in 1952.

Conway Scenic Railroad 2-8-2 501, nee Maine Central 501 built by American Locomotive Company in 1910. In 1963, it was leased to the Steamtown Foundation and sold to the 470 Railroad Club in 1983.

Conway Scenic Railroad turntable scenes.

Maine Central railway post office car 409 built by Osgood-Bradley in 1912 and used as a tool car.

Conway Scenic Railroad wedge snowplow 4211, nee Lamoille Valley 4211 built by Russell.

Inside the roundhouse was Boston & Maine F7A 4266A built by Electro-Motive Division in 1949.

Turntable scene.

Conway Scenic Railroad GP38 252, nee Maine Central 252 built by Electro-Motive Division in 1966.

Conway Scenic Railroad roundhouse.

More turntable scenes.

Wig wag crossing signal.

The Conway Scenic Railroad station. We would look around after the train ride and boarded the train, walking 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.

Leaving the North Conway station behind.

Boston & Maine milepost 11.

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

Passing the Theater in the Wood.

Taking a curve along the Saco River.

The split Glacial Erratic Boulder. This is one of the largest such 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 Jackson Maine Central station built in 1873.

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.

Passing the Bartlett Maine Central station.

The Bartlett Maine Central station.

Conway Scenic wedge snowplow 68, nee Portland Terminal 68 built by Russell in 1923 at the Bartlett roundhouse.

Maine Central 40 foot outside braced box car 35059 which served as a tool car between 1940 and 1969.

The rear of the Bartlett roundhouse which was built in 1887–88 by the Portland and Ogdensburg Railway, as a service point for extra steam locomotives needed to power trains up the steep grades of Crawford Notch. The Portland and Ogdensburg was acquired by lease in 1888 by the Maine Central Railroad. The facility was used by the Maine Central and was taken out of service after regular passenger service was ended on the line in 1958. Two bays were lengthened in 1913 to accommodate larger engines and two other bays were demolished about 1950, as usage of the facility declined. It was then sold to the state which used it as a sand and storage shed until the 1980's. It is now undergoing restoration by a local non-profit organization.

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