October 2020 Wheel Report
By Brian Solomon
Foliage and Busy Trains
Autumn came early to Conway Scenic Railroad. By the third week of September brilliant colored trees had dotted the Mount Washington Valley. In October, the railroad was experiencing robust patronage, with many trains sold out to the limits of Covid-19 capacity constraints. Our Mountaineer ran 7 days a week to Fabyan; with the final scheduled Fabyan run performed by the 470 Club Special on October 17, 2020 (see below). From October 18 until the end of October, Mountaineer is on a daily schedule, operating as far as Crawford. This year we have two November Mountaineer schedules; Saturday, November 7, and Saturday, November 14. Larger trains have been necessary to accommodate robust coach ticket sales. Longer train combined with the potential for slippery rail from leaves and/or wet rail, has resulted in locomotives 1751 and 216 double-heading on many of our October trips. Much to the delight of our guests there were several instances where the 470 Club’s Boston & Maine F7A 4266 has been assigned to assist the Mountaineer.
470 Club Special
This year’s 470 Club Special was an outstanding success. The train boarded as advertised at 9am and operated ahead of its special timetable throughout the day. The lead locomotives were 4266 and 573, and the train was the standard seven-car Mountaineer consist including Budd Vista Domes Rhonda Lee and Dorthea Mae. This ran from North Conway to Mountain Junction and then east on the Redstone Branch with the assistance of GP35 216 to the State siding at Kearsarge for the first of several photo stops. It then continued to Pudding Pond before returning west to Mountain Junction where 216 was cut off. The train continued west on the former Maine Central Mountain Division to Bartlett where it collected a few guests who arrived after the advertised boarding at North Conway. Photo run-bys were conducted at Sawyers, Willey Siding, and the site of the Mount Willard Section house where guests were greeted by the season’s first snow fall on top of remaining autumn leaves. The Special paused at Crawford Station for 35 minutes and the proceeded to Fabyan to run around. GP7 573 led in the eastward direction. One final run-by was conducted at the east end of Frankenstein Trestle.
Work Trains and Maintenance Projects
Keeping the railroad in good repair is a priority and we’ve been operating work trains through our busiest season. Many of our work trains were involved with repairs and maintenance of the former Maine Central Mountain Division. Through September, most of the work trains ran with GP9 1751 in the lead. However, on October 14, with 573, 1751 and 216 assigned to passenger trains, and locomotive 252 awaiting repair, F7A 4266 was assigned to a work train on the Conway Branch. This was a very unusual move for 2020, and was only seen by a handful of people as it was called on short notice to assist with changes necessary for the annual Pumpkin Patch Event planned for the Conway Station.
Our Buildings & Grounds department team have been hard at work. In addition to their important duties cleaning and sanitizing all of our trains and keeping our stations and grounds in top shape, in October they also attended to external improvements to our North Conway freight house that including replacing the wood siding and re-painting it to match the original B&M color of the building.
Budd RDC 23 Millie is undergoing its 92-day inspection in preparation for service later in the season. We anticipate getting steam locomotive 7470 ready for the Christmas season so that it can make appearances on the popular Journey to the North Pole excursions (which begin after Thanksgiving) that we operate for the Believe in Books Literacy Foundation. See: http://www.journeytothenorthpole.org/ for ticket options.
RIP Cinders the Cat
Everyone at Conway Scenic Railroad was devastated to learn of the passing of our beloved mascot, Cinders the roundhouse cat on September 22nd. See memorial by Dave Swirk.