Tasha Oates updated October 30, 2010


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  • Visit the Colorful Conway Scenic Line: Rich fall colors make the train trip special

    By Don Heimburger 

    Where can you combine rich train history and rich, natural fall colors? The Conway Scenic Railroad in North Conway, New Hampshire, of course!

    With the winter months right around the railroad bend, you'll want to get out and see this rail line, which has a long, colorful history and a colorful right-of-way to boot.

    With the setting the Mount Washington Valley near the border to Maine, and the fall colors turning from green to bright oranges and yellows, you'll enjoy old-fashioned train travel in the best Yankee tradition. Trains operate on a 55-minute schedule on an 11-mile roundtrip to Conway, and a longer 21-mile roundtrip to Bartlett. Steam train service yields to diesel-powered trains mid-October, but the trip behind yellow and green diesels, or other “flavored” diesels, is also worthwhile. The museum says steam will run for one of the weekends during the Polar Express event (November 26 and 27, December 3-5, 10-12, and 17-19), and then again for “Steam in the Snow” (a photographer's special train) in early January 2011.

    Other special train events coming up, that you have time to plan for, include the Kiwanis Autumn Express in early November, a Military Appreciation Day, Santa's Holiday Express and Old-Fashioned Vacation Week Train Rides. Some inns and bed and breakfasts are close by if you want to make a longer trip of it.


    The highlight of the yard area is the imposing 1874-built station, constructed by the Portsmouth, Great Falls & Conway Railroad. Note the old brass and iron clock located in the attic space between the station's towers—it's been operating for 136 years!

    See the unusual Ball Signal near the station. Now obsolete, these signals mark the historic nature of this well-preserved museum. You'll also see hand-operated crossing gates, Wig Wag signals, a 100-year-old four-stall roundhouse (unusual to see these days), a turntable, a freight house, and more.

    On the grounds you'll see more than 40 cars, both freight and passenger, as well as 13 locomotives, including #501, a 2-8-0 Alco 1910-built engine with 63” drivers, a typical EMD GP-7 diesel, which still is in service, and a twin-pack of F-7s, one of which still operates. A plethora of passenger cars fill the yard, including the parlor-observation car Gertrude Emma, built by the Pullman Palace Car Co. in 1898 for service on the new Pennsylvania Limited between New York and Chicago.


    There's a dome coach Dorthea Mae built by the Budd Company for service on the Great Northern Empire Builder, the Hattie Evans diner, which ran on the Norfolk & Western, and a string of enclosed vestibule cars built in the 1920s for the Central Railroad of New Jersey.

    Surprisingly, but maybe not because of the location, there are three snow flangers also on display, one built in 1890, one in 1891 and another in 1914. Perhaps the winter season trips on this railroad will yield some beautiful snow train scenes! The “snow trains” starting in the late 1930s brought thousands of skiers to the area to enjoy the abundant white stuff.

    Fall or winter—summer, too—you'll find train fun at this railroad haven in New Hampshire's mountains.

    If you go, read more first about the railroad at www.conwayscenic.com or call 800-232-5251.

    Article Details

    • Original Author Don Heimburger

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