September 2020 Wheel Report
By Brian Solomon
Conway Scenic Railroad enjoyed a robust summer season despite restrictions relating to the Covid-19 Pandemic. Although we necessarily needed to limit the number of guests traveling and imposed social distancing and other safety measures, we did our best to accommodate as many people as we could. At peak times many of our trains were sold to the limit of capacity based on State of New Hampshire restrictions.
To accommodate more guests we added cars to our scheduled trains and in a few instances added ‘extra’ trains to carry greater numbers of people.
On September 5th and 6th, Conway Scenic Railroad hosted its annual Railfan’s Weekend for the benefit of railroad enthusiasts. This was a scaled back event owing to restrictions imposed by Covid-19 mitigation and other unfortunate effects of Covid-19 such as fewer available crews and less serviceable equipment than in previous years. The weather was gorgeous on both days with bright sunlight and comfortable temperatures.
On Saturday September 5th, we operated two Railfan photographer’s demonstration freight trains using a selection of period freight cars. Both trains were powered by former Boston & Maine F7A 4266 (owned by the 470 Club) and former Maine Central GP7 573. The first freight departed North Conway about 10am and worked out to Mountain Junction and then east on the Redstone Branch (former Maine Central Mountain Division) to Kearsarge and beyond to Pudding Pond. At Kearsarge it picked up a tank car. The second freight departed North Conway at 2pm and worked the Conway Branch to Conway, where it picked up a ballast hopper, and returned to North Conway. Photo stops were made at several locations on each run. On Sunday, September 6th, F7A 4266 and GP35 216 worked a special photographers Mountaineer that paused at several locations for photographers to document the train.
On September 16, 2020, we introduced our autumn schedule. While our Valley train boarding times remained essentially the same, we made some significant changes to our Mountaineer. These were consistent with autumn changes implemented in previous years. The run was extended from Crawford Station to Fabyan, and extra time added to the run as a result. The train still boards at 11:30am, but now returns between 5:30 and 5:40pm after the second Bartlett Valley train. In addition, we plan to run the Mountaineer daily when possible to accommodate as many guests as we can. Already Premium class seating is sold out on many runs. We will return to a Crawford destination on October 18, 2020, and plan to run the Mountaineer through the end of October plus select weekend dates in November.
470 Club Special Mountaineer
On October 17, 2020 we are scheduled to operate a special Mountaineer for the 470 Club. This will depart North Conway at 9am and make a trip to Pudding Pond on the Redstone Branch before proceeding west on the old Mountain Division over Crawford Notch to Fabyan. Photo stops are planned for several locations along the route. We hope to have 4266 facing west and 573 facing east.
During the summer we have operated a number of work extras to perform routine maintenance along our lines. These have typically been led by either 216 or GP9 1751 and consist of work cars. In some instance the train has run with our vintage caboose, number 75955 at the back of the train in the traditional fashion.
Cinders the Cat
Our reclusive roundhouse supervisor has largely avoided the parade of visiting guests as she monitors the progress inside and around her domain. She continues to discourage and eliminate furry vermin from the premises and has overseen several important jobs, such as the installation of new timber on the turntable.