The Notch Train’s 2017 season has ended. We will resume excursions in June.
No smoking on the train or Railroad property.
Young children must be accompanied by an adult at all times.
Please refrain from putting any body parts outside the open windows at any time. Safety comes first at Conway scenic Railroad.
Alcohol consumption is restricted to the First-Class customers only, and all alcohol must be consumed only in the First-Class areas. Only alcohol that is purchased on the train may be consumed on the train.
The North Conway train station was built in 1874 by the Eastern Railroad and was designed by noted architect Nathaniel J. Bradlee of Boston, MA. Very little has changed in this building since it was built. The station, roundhouse, turntable and freight house all were built at the same time and are on the National Register of Historic Places.
If you look off to the left of the train as we leave the station, you will see a long mountain range called “the Moats.” They form the western side of the Mount Washington Valley.
The rails that we are riding on were laid in the 1870s. We start out on the former B&M Railroad line for about one mile, then we join the former Maine Central Railroad tracks in the area we call “Mountain Junction.” From there we will continue on the former Maine Central tracks for the remainder of our trip to Crawford Notch Depot.
As we cross over public roadways the engineer will blow the horn 4 times (2 long, 1 short, and then 1 long). Private crossings are just 1 long blow of the horn.
On the left side of the train, you will notice granite posts with the top part painted white, a letter P and a number. These are called mile posts. The letter indicates Portland, ME, and the number indicates the miles in distance that we are from Portland via the rails. The first one coming up is MP61. Shortly after MP61 we pass through Intervale, NH, which is the site of the Abenaki Indian summer encampment which was established by Joseph Laurent in 1884. He was the chief of the Odanak (Quebec) Abenakis. There is a small monument dedicated to Joseph off to the right of the train as we pass through Intervale.
Crossing Route 302/16 on the left you can see White Horse and Cathedral Ledges.
MP64: On the left side of the train, you will see the Saco River, and on the right several beaver ponds, where there have been sightings of water fowl, deer, bear, and an occasional eagle. On the left side after the Saco River, we will see the Ellis River, just over 16 miles long (25km), also a tributary of the Saco. We will cross the Ellis just after we pass by the Glen & Jackson station on the right side of the train. Take note of the stained glass windows and architecture along the roof line as they are original to the building.
MP65: We will pass over the Saco River on a double span steel truss bridge.
At MP66: We pass under Gove’s Bridge where Route 302 goes over our tracks. Before the bridge was built, this was called “Cooks’ Crossing.”
MP67: “Fields of Attitash” (also known as “Chandler Field”) is part of the Attitash Resort complex. We will pass through the main part very shortly, and on the left side of the train you will see Attitash Ski area. We partner with Attitash on our dining cars the Hattie Evans (on the Notch Train) and Chocorua (on the Valley train). The culinary team from Attitash prepares your food to order right on the train, and you are served by their wonderful wait staff.
MP62: Much of the area we travel through is surrounded by the White Mountain National Forest which was created by Congress through the Weeks Act of 1911. The law was the result of extensive clear-cut logging in the White Mountains during the second half of the 19th Century, which led to huge forest fires in the early 20th Century. One forest fire in 1903 destroyed over 84,000 acres of land.
After MP68: “Roger’s Crossing,” where we cross Route 302, is named after the Rogers’ family that owned and farmed much of the acreage in this area for many generations. The only thing left of the Rogers’ homestead is a small barn to the right of the train as we cross Route 302.
MP69: We enter the town of Bartlett, which in 1790 was named in honor of Dr. Josiah Bartlett of Kingston, NH. He was a member of the Continental Congress and a signer of the Declaration of Independence. He was the first to sign right after John Hancock. Throughout the railroad’s history, Bartlett was where helper locomotives were added to the trains to give power assists to get the trains up through Crawford Notch. The grades in the Notch are about 2.2% (116 feet rise per mile). The Notch was considered a strategic point for transporting war material and was guarded by the US Army during WWI & WWII.
MP63: The first river we cross is the East Branch River, which is just over 13 miles long (20km) and a tributary the Saco River (which is the main river in the Mt. Washington Valley).
MP70: We are now entering the Bartlett yard, where at one time there was a train station, freight house, a six-stall engine house, numerous sidings (auxilliary track used to store cars that are waiting to be moved) and a Wye track (three tracks configured so as to reverse the direction of a locomotive) for turning locomotives. Only the freight house, four-stall engine house, two sidings and Wye track remain.
When we left the station in North Conway our elevation was 531 feet (161m); we are now at 673 feet (205m). We will end up at 1,889 feet (575m) by the time we reach Crawford Station.
The first 4 bridges West of Bartlett are called First, Second, Third and Fourth Iron. They were originally made of iron before being replaced with the current steel bridges. First Iron is over Albany Brook; Second and Third Iron are over the Saco River, and Fourth Iron is over Sawyer River. The irons are closely followed by the MP signs.
MP74: Sawyer River is just over 9 miles long (14km) and is a tributary of the Saco River.
MP76: Nancy Brook and then we pass under Route 302.
On the left just after Route 302 is the Notchland Inn (Dr. Bemis’ cottage) elevation here is 1002 feet (305m).
Between MP77 & MP78: Mt. Crawford is on the right, elevation 3,119 feet (950m), and on the left is Mt. Bemis, elevation 3,725 feet (1,135m).
Before MP79 is Bemis brook and the entrance to Arethusa Falls. We are now officially in Crawford Notch State Park.
We will cross over Frankenstein Trestle shortly. This trestle was named after Godfrey Nicholas Frankenstein, a renowned artist, by his friend Dr. Bemis. Godfrey immigrated to the U.S. in 1831 and started visiting the White Mountains in 1847. The trestle is 500 feet (152m) long and 80 feet (24m) high with a 4 degree curvature to the left. If you look to the left, you will see the cliffs named for Godfrey, and off to the right is a view looking down the Valley. This trestle was completed in 1875.
MP80: We will pass by the Willey House station site named after the Samuel Willey family. The family and two hired hands lived in a house in the valley below us. All of them died tragically in a landslide in August of 1826.
MP81: Avalanche Brook/Ripley Falls trail, which is part of the Appalachian Mountain Trail, elevation is 1,470 feet (448m).
MP83: Shortly, we will be crossing over Willey Brook Bridge, 240 feet (73m) long and 94 feet (28m) high. Originally built with both wooden and iron sections, the wooden part was replaced with iron and, after 1900, the iron section was replaced with steel. The bridge crosses Willey Brook which tumbles down between Mts. Willey and Willard.
As we proceed out on the bridge, be sure to look off to the right where you will see Mt. Webster and down the Valley of the Saco River. Crawford Notch is a U-shaped valley that was carved out by a glacier. At the West end of the bridge stood a dwelling, the Mt. Willard Section House built in 1887. The well-known Evans’ family lived in this house for 40 years and were responsible for feeding and housing the section men that maintained that part of the Railroad. On the right side of the train, after we pass over the bridge, you see a monument and garden dedicated to the family’s matriarch, Hattie Evans, for whom the dining car on this train is named.
Once we pass through the rock cut called the “Gateway of Crawford Notch,” please be seated and remain in your seats until we come to a complete stop. This is for your safety. Again, safety comes first at Conway Scenic Railroad.
You will see a small lake on the right. This is Saco Lake and the headwaters of the Saco River. What begins here as just a stream grows into one of Maine’s largest rivers as it travels 136 miles to empty into the Atlantic Ocean. Elevation is now 1,889 feet (575m).
To the right of the lake, you will see a rock formation that is called “Elephant’s Head.” It is a very popular photo subject.
There are restrooms located on the right, just past the train depot. Please use caution when stepping off the train and exit only where the train crew has opened the doors.
For many more details on the fascinating history of Crawford Notch, please visit the History Section of this website.