Conway Scenic Railroad

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Conway Scenic Railroad
Conway Scenic Railroad logo.png
Conway Scenic locomotive 4268.JPG
Display EMD F7 beside the 1874 North Conway freight depot.
Locale White Mountains region of New Hampshire
Connections New Hampshire Central Railroad
Commercial operations
Built by Portland, Great Falls and Conway Railroad, Portland and Ogdensburg Railroad
Original gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Preserved operations
Owned by Russ Seybold, Mountain Division right-of-way owned by the State of New Hampshire
Operated by Conway Scenic Railroad
Reporting mark CSRX
Length 51 miles (82 km)
Preserved gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Commercial history
Opened 1872
1875 Mountain Division is completed and connected.
1890 Boston and Maine Corporation acquires the Conway Branch
1972 Conway Branch abandoned (north of Ossipee)
1983 Mountain Division abandoned.
Closed 1972
Preservation history
August 4, 1974 Started
1995 Mountain Division operations begin.
Headquarters North Conway
Website
http://conwayscenic.com

The Conway Scenic Railroad (reporting mark CSRX)[1] is a heritage railway in North Conway, New Hampshire. 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.[2]

Operations[edit]

The Dorthea Mae dome car.

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 (1¾ 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 5½ 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.[3] 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.[4]

Special freight operation[edit]

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.[5]

Locomotive roster[edit]

Active units[edit]

Number Builder Type Build Date Status Notes
7470 Grand Trunk Railway Point St. Charles Shops Steam, 0-6-0, CN O-18-a 1921 Operational 7470 is the only active coal-fired standard gauge steam locomotive in New Hampshire. This engine was originally built in 1921 by the Grand Trunk Railway as #1795, which was absorbed by the Canadian National Railways two years later as #7470. 7470 began operation on the Conway Scenic with the railroad's inception in 1974. Until the early 1990s its number was abbreviated as #47. This locomotive is Conway Scenic's main engine. Today, 7470 is used primarily to power the Conway-bound Valley Trains during the autumn seasons, as well as special excursions such as Steam in the Snow. It has also pulled the Notch Train on special occasions, most recently in 2011. 7470 used to run during the summer months as well but hadn't done so since 2007. In early 2010 it was decided to only operate it in mid-September to early October with special added runs for Polar Express only the last weekend before Christmas and again for steam in the snow the first weekend in January. Summer operations is reserved for special excursions only.
573 EMD GP7 1950 Operational Ex-Maine Central unit acquired from Guilford Rail System. Typically referred to as "Mr. Miller's Engine", 573 was the preferred power for the Maine Central business train by the president of the Maine Central Railroad, E. Spencer Miller. 573 led the last business train through Crawford Notch (St. Johnsbury to Portland) shortly before Guilford closed the line in 1984. When Guilford acquired the Delaware and Hudson Railway in 1984, 573 became Delaware & Hudson 573. In 1988 when Guilford sold the D&H, they kept 573 and assigned it to Springfield Terminal and renumbered it 27. 573's first season at the Conway Scenic (1996) was operated as number 27. Today 573 is the typical motive power for Valley Train excursions.
4266 EMD F7A 1949 Operational An ex-Boston & Maine unit leased from the 470 Railroad Club of Portland, Maine. This locomotive was the last "F unit" to operate on the Boston & Maine Railroad in 1976. Today the engine serves as backup power for both the Valley Train and the Notch Train.
23 Budd Company RDC-1 1952 Operational AKA "Millie"; the only fully operational RDC in New Hampshire. Originally built for the New Haven Railroad. Purchased from the New York, Susquehanna and Western Railway in the summer of 2008; used to provide Valley Train services during the off-peak season and private charters. 23 is slated to become an additional coach car on the notch train during the foliage seasons.
252 EMD GP38 1966 Operational Acquired in a trade from Pan Am Railways in March 2010. An ex-Boston and Maine, exx-Maine Central unit, 252 was the leading unit that pulled the last regularly scheduled freight train through Crawford Notch on September 3, 1983. In the late 1980s 252 was put into storage until 1995 when it was taken out, refurbished and assigned to the B&M. 252 was retired by Pan Am in December 2009. On June 23, 2010, 252 was delivered to the Conway Scenic at which time Conway Scenic personnel brought the engine to North Conway from Whitefield under its own power. To keep with Maine Central tradition, management has nicknamed 252 and 216 the "Yellow Birds". On July 13, 2010, Kurt Ward, a resident of Conway and a former Conway Scenic employee (2000) was killed in a railroad accident while working at the Pan Am Railways East Deerfield Yard in East Deerfield, Massachusetts. Because Kurt Ward worked extensively with this engine, on July 28, 2010 the Conway Scenic named 252 in his honor.
216 EMD GP35 1965 Operational Acquired in a trade from Pan Am Railways in March 2010. Ex-Springfield Terminal 216, Exx-Norfolk Southern 1328, Exxx-Norfolk and Western 1328. 216 has been assigned to the notch train along with 252 and is expected to operate on a rotating schedule with 252. The engine has dual controls in the cab and can be operated from either side. 216 was delivered on May 14, 2010 and made its inaugural run June 22, 2010. To keep with Maine Central tradition, management has nicknamed 216 and 252 the "Yellow Birds".
1751 EMD GP9 1956 Operational This unit was acquired in a trade from the Finger Lakes Railway in November 2011. The unit was delivered along with the 1757 on September 22, 2012.
1757 EMD GP9 1956 Operational but missing two traction motors Owned by the 470 Railroad Club, this ex-New Hampshire Northcoast unit will become the donor unit for the ex-BM #4268. It is expected that this engine will remain operational (if traction motors are in stalled) for a short while before the transfer occurs and may be used as needed by the Conway Scenic. Once the transfer is complete the shell of this unit will be scrapped. This unit was delivered on September 22, 2012 along with the 1751. The transfer is expect to be complete within 5 years.

Inoperable units[edit]

Number Builder Type Build Date Status Notes
501 Alco Steam, 2-8-0 1910 Display; inoperable Originally built for the Maine Central Railroad, 501 is currently owned by the 470 Railroad Club.[6] This locomotive was at one time under restoration for operation on the Conway Scenic, but the plan was stopped in 2007. 501 is on display next to the turntable in North Conway and has undergone a cosmetic restoration.
4268 EMD F7A 1949 Display; undergoing a full restoration An ex-Boston and Maine unit, exx-EMD Demonstration unit #930 now owned by the 470 Railroad Club, 4268 is currently on display near the freight house in North Conway. The engine is currently undergoing a cosmetic restoration. However, in December 2011 the 470 Railroad Club officially announced their intentions to return this unit to full service. Since all that remains is the shell, a donor unit was purchased in November 2011. Ex-New Hampshire Northcoast GP9 - #1757 (retired a few years ago) will be the donor unit.
360 General Electric 44-tonner Display Owned by the State of New Hampshire; lettered for New Hampshire Central. This engine, which arrived on property in June 2005, is for sale. 360 has never been in operation for the Conway Scenic Railroad.

Former units[edit]

Number Builder Type Build Date Notes
1943 General Electric B23-7 1978 Originally owned by Conrail, this locomotive was slotted to take over regular Notch Train duties from the "sisters" when its overhaul was complete. Although the engine made many test runs, it never made it into regular service due to ongoing electrical issues. In November 2011, this unit along with 2820 was traded to the Finger Lakes Railway for Finger Lakes GP9 unit #1751 and was shipped out soon after.
2820 General Electric U23B 1975 Originally owned by the Louisville and Nashville Railroad, this locomotive ran in 2006 and 2007 before suffering a broken crankshaft. In November 2011, this unit along with 1943 was traded to the Finger Lakes Railway for Finger Lakes GP9 unit #1751 and was shipped out soon after.
6505/6516 GMD FP9s 1954/1957 A pair of ex-Canadian National units, nicknamed "the Sisters". These locomotives were acquired from Via Rail and were delivered to the Conway Scenic on August 14, 1995. The locomotives were the primary motive power for Notch Train excursions starting on September 16, 1995, with 6516 entering into service working the notch as a powerless unit (became powered in 1998) with ex-B&M 4266. 6505 entered full operational service on September 23, 1996. and would remain like that until August 2006 when service was taken over by 2820. The Sisters worked the last few weeks of the 2006 notch train season but would not turn a wheel again till September 2007 when the 2820 suffered a broken crank shaft. From that point on the Sisters remained the primary power through the 2009 season. In March 2010, the locomotives were traded to Pan Am Railways for 252 and 216 to become the motive power for Pan Am's business train. 6505, which last operated on October 18, 2009, was shipped out on May 14, 2010 and had its inaugural run with Pan Am Railways on July 1, 2010 under its new number "PAR 1". 6516, which last operated on May 31, 2010, was shipped out on July 7, 2010, running the engine under its own power for the final time through Crawford Notch. 6516 rejoined "PAR 1" and became "PAR 2", having its inaugural run with Pan Am Railways on August 1, 2010. The sisters were seen together for the ceremonial kick-off for the Downeaster track work extension in Brunswick, Maine on August 2, 2010.
1055 Alco S-4 1950 An ex-Portland Terminal Company unit. This locomotive provided backup power for Valley Train excursions and was the railroad's main diesel engine for the Valley excursions until the arrival of 573 in 1996. 1055 was sold to the Downeast Scenic Railroad (DSRX) on April 9, 2010 and was shipped out on May 14, 2010.
15 General Electric 44-tonner 1945 An ex-Maine Central unit,[7] this engine last operated in October 2005 during Railfans Weekend. 15 used to serve as the primary engine for the MOW crew and was the first diesel engine to operate on the Conway Scenic. The unit was sold in December 2010 to the Southern Prairie Railway in Ogema, Saskatchewan and was shipped out on a flatbed truck on June 14, 2011. The engine arrived at its new home 7 days later.
108 Baldwin Steam, 2-6-2 1920 Originally "San Augustine County Lumber Company" #108 and later became Angelina and Neches River Railroad #108 until 1954 when it was sold to the Reader Railroad. Acquired from the Reader Railroad, 108 operated on the Conway Scenic from 1976 to 1986, when it was retired due to mechanical issues and the engine not being powerful enough to pull on steep grades. The engine was sold shortly after and sat on display in North Conway unprotected from the elements going through different ownership until 1999, when it was sold to Rannoch Corporation who moved it back to its home state of Texas, where it was stored on the Blacklands Railroad and disassembled.[8][9] One of the last times 108 was seen in operation was when it pulled ex-MEC 501 out of the round house on Railfan's Weekend in September 1986. Now owned by Robbins Rail Museum of Alabama, 108 still resides in Texas in pieces.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]