Conway Scenic Railroad
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|Conway Scenic Railroad|
|Display EMD F7 beside the 1874 North Conway freight depot|
|Locale||White Mountains region of New Hampshire|
|Connections||New Hampshire Central Railroad|
|Built by||Portland, Great Falls and Conway Railroad, Portland and Ogdensburg Railroad|
|Original gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge|
|Owned by||Russ Seybold; Mountain Division right-of-way owned by the State of New Hampshire|
|Operated by||Conway Scenic Railroad|
|Length||51 miles (82 km)|
|Preserved gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge|
|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.|
|August 4, 1974||Started|
|1995||Mountain Division operations begin.|
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.
Conway Scenic Railroad was founded by local businessmen Bill Levy and Carroll Reed and a Boston and Maine Railroader named Dwight Smith. They purchased the abandoned station and rail line from Conway to Intervale (7 miles) from the Boston and Maine in 1974. Smith bought Canadian National 7470 and the first train was run on August 4, 1974.
In 1983, the Mountain Division was abandoned, and for twelve years Conway Scenic was insulated without a connection to the wider United States rail network. In 1994, they obtained from the state a lease of the Mountain Division. On December 17, 1994, the first revenue train made it as far as Bartlett, and operations through the scenic Crawford Notch began in September 1995. The first train ran to Fabyans in 1996.
The original owners were bought out by husband and wife Russ and Dot Seybold in 1999.
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 #1308), 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 restored dining car built as N&W Powhatan Arrow 492 in 1950, and now named Hattie Evans, was added to the train. Annual special events at the railroad include Day out with Thomas, a railfan day on the first Saturday of September, Polar Express-themed trips during December, and a "Steam in the Snow" (or "Covered Wagon in the Snow" when the steam locomotive is not available) 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, the first freight train of any kind since October 1984, and the first and only revenue freight move for the Conway Scenic to date.
|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.|
|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, this engine was delivered to the Conway Scenic at Hazens in the town of Whitefield and ran from there to North Conway under its own power. 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 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. Keeping with Maine Central tradition, 216 and 252 are often referred to as 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.|
|7470||Grand Trunk Railway Point St. Charles Shops||Steam, 0-6-0, CN O-18-a||1921||Out of service||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. Primarily used to power the Conway-bound Valley Trains during the autumn seasons, there have been special excursions such as the annual Steam in the Snow to Notchland Inn and trips through Crawford Notch (last notch run was in 2011). 7470 used to operate during the summer months but that ended in 2007, excluding special excursions. With the FRA-mandated 15 year boiler inspection now due, 7470 made its last run on January 3, 2015. 7470 will be out of service for about two years. It is expected that 7470 would be returned to service again around early or late 2017 or 2018.|
|1757||EMD||GP9||1956||Display||Owned by the 470 Railroad Club, this ex-New Hampshire Northcoast unit is slated to become the donor unit for the ex-BM #4268. 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.|
|501||Alco||Steam, 2-8-0||1910||Display||Originally built for the Maine Central Railroad, 501 is currently owned by the 470 Railroad Club. 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 been undergoing a cosmetic restoration.|
|4268||EMD||F7A||1949||Display||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. This unit has been undergoing a cosmetic restoration, and in December 2011 the 470 Railroad Club 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 prior) 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 is only on property for safe storage and has never been in operation for the Conway Scenic.|
|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 crankshaft. 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, 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; 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. One of the last times 108 was seen in operation was when it pulled ex-MEC 501 out of the round house on Railfans Weekend in September 1986. Now owned by Robbins Rail Museum of Alabama, 108 still resides in Texas in pieces.|
- North Conway Depot and Railroad Yard
- List of heritage railroads in the United States
- List of heritage railroads in New Hampshire
- List of heritage railways
- Railinc, Search MARKs, accessed July 2009
- Carroll County Listings on the National Register of Historic Places (District - #79003792)
- "Conway Scenic Railroad -- History: Conway Scenic Railroad, Inc.". Retrieved 2016-12-18.
- CSR from Maine Rail Group from off rail use from Norfolk & Western
- Massachusetts Bay Railroad Enthusiasts (Upcoming Excursions, Tours, and Special Events)
- Tucker, Edith (June 24, 2009). "End of line for made in China transformer. 411-ton transformer is hauled on Conway Scenic RR". Coos County Democrat. Retrieved July 17, 2011.
- 470 Railroad Club membership page
- Ozark Mountain Railcar listing
- "Request for Expressions of Interest in Acquisition of Steam Locomotive #108". Railway Preservation News. July 25, 2005. Retrieved June 28, 2011.
- "Steam Locomotive #108". The Rannoch Corporation. Archived from the original on 2005-02-04. Retrieved July 27, 2011.
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