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April 2019

The Wheel Report Archives

Hello All,

I’m sitting on my couch at home, watching the 1985 Andrei Konchalovsky classic film Runaway Train and I think to myself, “Self, this is a good time to write The Wheel Report.” And since I agreed with that observation, here we are.

Last month I spoke a great deal about the great work the Mechanical and Track crew have been producing and rightfully so. Still, there is a lot of great work being done in the Main Station, so let’s hit the highlights:

The Brass Whistle Gift Shop has seen new paint, a new floor treatment, new layout and new product. The new product is the introduction HO model railroad supplies. Assistant to the Gift Shop Cathy Trecarten is using her 20 years of retail experience to stock our shelfs with engines, cars, track, and scenery supplies for both the new-comer to the hobby and the seasoned veteran. My personal favorites are the Circus train cars and the ready-to-run set. Keep an eye out for theses offering to make their way to a website ordering platform in the near future.

In the other side of the station sits the main ticket counter and the Conway Scenic Railroad’s museum collection. Much of this has been removed or relocated to allow more room for our guests to move around the building. But do not worry, fans of Railroad Antiquities; the team of Conner and Cullen Mahar worked diligently to catalog and archive the collection, then reworked one of the museums display cases to show off some of the best artifacts in our collection. The items that are very dear to me are a name tag and conductor’s hat which once belong to long time Conway Scenic employee and my friend Mr. Eddie Sauer, who I miss greatly but smile about his memory every time I see that hat and nametag.

If you have ever visited Conway Scenic Railroad, you know that we want everyone to be able to enjoy a ride in the Mount Washington Valley, even Fido. Well behaved dogs are always welcomed in coach class at no charge and, while that will still be the case this year, your four legged companion will now receive their own Doggie Ticket. Still no charge, but now you can take home a dated keep sake of your adventure on the Conway Scenic Railroad with your furry sidekick.

There are many moving parts of the operation, and sometimes all the rules and regulations can become confusing.  This can be especially true for new hires just joining the ranks of Conway Scenic. To help all our employees, we conduct rules’ class where we gather together, review the rulebook and its changes, and share ideas on how to make the operation a safer one for both crew and guests. Early this month, we held a very well-attended class, presented by yours truly at a new location for the railroad. I want to give a big Thank You to the Gibson Center in North Conway. Long time neighbor to the railroad, they we good enough to open their main dining room to us on a Saturday. I would encourage you all to visit their website and see all the great things they are doing for the Mount Washington Valley and its Seiner Citizens.

On the same thread of training, New Hampshire Department of Transportation Bureau of Rail and Transit Railroad Inspector and Investigator, John Robinson, (Whooo… now doesn’t that just roll off the tongue?) came to Conway Scenic this week.  He met with our track crew as well as members of the New Hampshire Central Railroad and the New Hampshire Northcoast for a Spring time refresher on remedial action on track defects, classifications of personal, and a hands-on review of switch and turnout inspections in the rail yard at North Conway. This was a great training session, and I think it’s always fun for the State rail operators to get together and talk shop. Thanks again to Mr. Robinson for his time and effort, and here’s to a safe operation season for all in the State.

Like many of you, I love my phone. I find it is a great means of communication, documentation, reference, and distraction all in one. I do spend some time on Instagram with my name being derekpalmieri24. For those of you playing at home, this my full name and my radio call sign at Conway Scenic. Now, while I may not be the most interesting person to follow, one that you need to look for is conwayscenicrailroad, the office Instagram account of Conway Scenic. With 975 followers after only 18 posts, this is the account to watch if you want some great photos and regular updates on the comings and goings for the railroad – in between your readings of The Wheel Report, of course. The shift on the account is thanks to Wally Hills, one of Conway Scenic dedicated train service employees and an Instagram aficionado in his own right. I have really enjoyed his work so far, and I hope you will, too, so head on over and help us reach 1,000 followers!

A note about track and snow. Not my favorite combination. Don’t get me wrong: in December, the swirling snow outside the window, drifting up in fluffy piles, is all great. The problem I have is with this new model of 7 solid months of winter.  That is starting to wear on me and, more importantly, our Track and Mechanical Crew who have been and still are fighting to get all the track clear of ice and snow. This task has become somewhat easier with the newest addition to the fleet, a 51,500 pound bundle of steel. The new CAT 980 B Loader arrived at North Conway from Massachusetts, and we immediately set to work clearing the line to Conway working with locomotive 1751 and crew. The crew’s dedication to the job is incredible and will be needed as they move west from North Conway towards Bartlett and Crawford Notch.

45 years…that is an accomplishment. An accomplishment that I’m so proud to say Conway Scenic Railroad hit on Saturday April 13th 2019. This marked Day One of the 45th season of the Railroad.  We had all of the things that make Conway Scenic great: wonderful, attentive, and professional staff, great weather, plenty of excited passengers and, of course, vintage equipment gremlins. While the first train of the day left the station 25 minutes late, I look at it this way: our team pulled together to solve the problem, and we can only improve from here We did, and by Sunday we had on time departures and sold out trains. If anyone reading this was a passenger on opening weekend, I would like to say on behalf of the whole crew at Conway Scenic, “Thank you for your support!” If you are thinking about your trip to Conway Scenic, please visit our website, and check out all of the great events scheduled for the 2019 season.

And now it’s time for everyone favorite railroad-related Q and A, Ask North Tower! Today’s question comes from Liam who asked, “New ties were put in on the Redstone line between Bolten Hill Road and the Saco River trestle, so does this mean for Railfans day 2018 the Redstone trips will be going down there? I was also wondering: has there ever been any consideration of running regular excursions on the Redstone line? I know that seems like a weird question, but I’ve always thought it would make a good valley train route and was wondering if anyone had ever considered that.”

Liam, thanks for the question.  As our readers can tell, this one is somewhat dated but simply swap out the 2018 for 2019, and it is perfectly relevant. So to answer your first question, yes there will be trips on Railfans’ Weekend to the Saco River Bridge on the Redstone line. This is now possible as the State of New Hampshire has re-written our operating agreement to have operations possible right to the bridge. This was not finalized in time for Railfans 2018, which is why the trip was not run.

To the second part, yes, I have always enjoyed my trip on the Redstone line, also referred to as the Branch by some of the crew as it offers some very nice view from Pudding Pond. The 2019 season will see many more passenger moves over the Branch then in past years. We have a few private charters that have booked tours there.  I have already mentioned Railfans’ Weekend. New this year will be Conway Scenic Railroad’s Sensory Friendly Fridays, traversing the Branch each week in July for children on the autism spectrum. I encourage you all to visit conwayscenic.com for more information about this event and all the other excursions for 2019.

Thanks again for the question, Liam. If any of you have a questions about the operation of the railroad or are looking for more in-depth insight to some of our equipment, please submit your question, along with your name, to [email protected], for a chance to have your question answered in a future publication of The Wheel Report. Please include where you read The Wheel Report and be sure to include “Ask North Tower” in the subject line.

And, lastly, I know that you want to know what’s going on with our Steam Program.  I’ll have much more to say about that next time!

As always, See Tracks? Think Train.

See you on the High Iron,

Derek Palmieri