Friday, 19 October 2012

Down by the Station

Down by the station...not years ago but in this modern age...and not early in the morning either. 

North Conway, New Hampshire. This location should be familiar to anyone with an interest in railroads and who has visited the Mount Washington Valley area. 

On September 22, 2012, afternoon Kie and I decided to go to the Conway Scenic Railroad's train station situated off the town square in the older part of North Conway. Just as we started toward town via West Side Road I heard a train whistle for the tunnel under Highway 302. I pulled over beside the track to wait and watch the train. Several people with sophisticated looking camera equipment were already lined up track-side and waiting.

Instead of the returning Bartlett train, units 1751 and 1757 trundled by. I was wondering why the two units were running light but thought no more about it and continued toward our planned destination.

Upon arriving at the train station we found steam engine 7470 quietly steaming away and waiting for a train just like the handful of passengers. No doubt the 7470 was waiting for the Bartlett train to arrive.

7470 - one of the railroad's star attractions

Outside the station those with the sophisticated cameras started showing up. Inside the station I heard that two new diesel units (new to the CSRR that is) were being delivered via Whitefield and Crawford Notch and were about to arrive.

Kie was taking the photos and I was instructing her (she called it pestering) where best to stand and how to plan and frame the arrival scene. None of the camera experts were anywhere near where Kie and I were standing when she recorded 1751 and 1757 having just stopped in front of the landmark station. 7470 was quietly smoking away and staying out of the way on the passing track. 

Newly arrived 1751 and 1757Note the New York Central style paint scheme on 1751

Deja vue all over again? No. Not this time. Unlike the 1950's these diesels have not arrived to replace steam.

The not-so-old (left) and the old (right). Perhaps a railroad version of the generation gap

Kie thought I fit in well with this group. I don't know if she meant the old part, or the rusty part, or the puffing part or even the retired part, but I don't think she meant the newly arrived part. None of us were groaning or squeaking that afternoon.

Another shot with the old-timers together.

Newly arrived 7571 and 1757 are sitting on the main track in front of the station and 7470 is waiting on the only siding. With two southbound passenger trains due into the station within the next 30 minutes, the most pressing question becomes, "Where do we put everything?"

1757 and 1751 entering at the south end of the yard to move them out of the way.

Here is the timeless challenge of new toys arriving on the railroad layout - and these ones here can only stay on the rails. Unlike models which do allow for some cheating, these new units cannot be picked up and placed back in the box to move them out of the way for later.

Everything must be well planned before anything moves. Both safety and the physical plant constraints require these. The first move is to get 1751 and 1757 out of the way and put away until placed into service. The two units were moved south and then yarded.

What about in here? Okay...but will they fit?

The two diesel units were slowly and carefully eased onto and across the turntable and into the roundhouse. When 1751 was finally clear of the roundhouse front doors, the back end of 1757 was poking outside the back doors on the other end of the roundhouse. Maybe not a perfect fit but out of the way for now.

7470 begins puffing and slowly backs up

The two new diesels units have been moved out of the way and the 7470 has been cleared to roll.

The steam engine has entered the main line and is slowly rolling down the hill preparing to stop and wait.

After the train from Bartlett arrives an often performed engine swap-out will occur. The diesel unit will cut off the train and then back into the siding which the 7470 has just vacated. 

When the lone diesel unit is out of the way, the 7470 will come back up the hill from where it has been sitting and then hook up to the waiting passenger cars. This consist will now become the next train departing for Conway

7470 is slowly rolling down the hill to get out of the way of the soon-to-return Bartlett train.

Nothing to do now except wait for the first passenger train which is soon to arrive from Bartlett. So I wonder, "Instead of just watching what is going on why not be a part of the action going on? 

I run (cautiously walk across the tracks actually) into the station and purchase two first class tickets to Conway. Kie and I are going all the way to Conway on the next train!

Train rides? Now you have my undivided attention.

Passenger train arriving from Bartlett

Kie and I are on the station platform watching the Bartlett train arrive. After arriving passengers are discharged, the train will be made ready for its trip to Conway. The engine swap-out will occur while we are waiting to board the train.

After the Conway train departs at 4:30, the returning "Notch" train will arrive about 10 minutes later.

An abstract of the present public timetable. We'll be on the 4:30 p.m. departure to (C)

Can't get very far without this.

The Conway Scenic Railroad's tickets are not as attractive as they used to be but they are still good for travel on the trains...and that's what counts in the end.

CONWAY GE F/C simply means that Kie and I will be riding to Conway in the Gertrude Emma which is the first class parlour car.

Here are two tickets (front and back) from a few years earlier.

The 7470 doing the run-around at Conway. This particular scene (scanned from a print) was captured by Kie six years earlier on the same 4:30 p.m. departure in September 2006. All the other photos in this group were recorded in September 2012. Not much has changed.

At Conway, NH. the 7470 is coupling on to the passenger cars as the train is prepared for the not-so-long journey north through the wilds toward North Conway.

All hooked up and ready to return to North Conway.

While the train was stopped in Conway Station for the engine to run around to the opposite end of the train, Kie stepped off for a few minutes to take a few photos. Just visible behind the engine tender is first class passenger car Gertrude Emma.

More than 100 years old and still going. This plate is on the Gertrude Emma and details a concise history of the passenger car.

The wilds of New Hampshire between Conway and North Conway as seen from the train

Actually the above scene is more pastoral than wild. Visible behind the sumac trees is a cornfield and the Moat Mountains. 

If you really want to see some of the wilds of New Hampshire from the rails, then ride the "Notch" train to Crawford Notch. Well worth the 5 hour trip if you would rather not shop.

Kie's favourite activity in North Conway is not the railroad. She really would have preferred to have been over in Settler's Green doing some shopping...but we did that earlier in the day. 

Usually I drop her off at the stores for a few hours and I ride the trains.

The Oddblock Station Agent


Years cold and literally at the end of the line...the locomotive of course. This scene was recorded in North Conway at the CSRR in summer 1985. David was very reluctant to stand in front of that monstrous black relic.

One more station scene at North Conway in summer 1985

Last call for passengers! 

The 14:30 train for Bartlett about to depart.

October 2014 - not much has changed in the 29 years between these two pictures

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