We are in the middle of a very busy summer here at the railroad. We have just completed our time with Thomas the Tank Engine, an event that continues to be as popular as ever, and we look forward to seeing him return again next year. Now we turn our attention to all of the things that are scheduled for the rest of the operating season.
This August brings Conway Scenic’s 40th Birthday Celebration! It was on August 4, 1974, that Dwight Smith and his dedicated group of (mostly) volunteers ran the first revenue train from North Conway to Conway and back. Steam locomotive #7470 was the power for that trip and, now, since the Federal Railroad Administration has approved our waiver request, we were are able to celebrate the occasion with the same locomotive running on the same route forty years later. Many thanks to the CSRR pioneers and to the FRA!
Approval of 7470’s waiver request will allow us to run the locomotive for the balance of this season. We have had an issue with a warm bearing on the locomotive, but I hope that is now solved by converting it from soda block grease lubrication to journal oil. Several railroads around the country have converted their steam locomotives over to oil from grease with great success. I am told that, for some reason, the grease products that are available today for this kind of ‘plain bearing’ service are inferior to the grease products that were available just ten years ago, making the change over to oil a necessity. Ultimately during 7470’s upcoming overhaul, the bearings will all be removed, inspected and will be repaired or replaced as necessary. Doing that now is simply not practical because the locomotive will have to have her rods taken down and be jacked up off of her wheels to get the proper access to the bearings.
Daily progress is being made on new table car #6749. The window glass is going in and the oak interior is getting its final coatings of stain and polyurethane. The flooring will be completely installed soon, and that will allow us to bring in the seating and tables. We are also just about ready to install the mechanical equipment for air-conditioning and heating. Be looking for this car to join the fleet by mid to late September! This will be the 15th active car in the Conway Scenic fleet of passenger equipment.
As this is being written, we have a contractor working on the line who is installing more than 800 ties on the 5 mile stretch between Crawford Depot and Fabyan’s Station. Our track men are working with them to get the project done, and it looks like they will have completed the job in less than two weeks. Maintenance of the track, bridges and the Right of Way never ends. We are truly blessed to have an excellent working relationship with the New Hampshire DOTs Bureau of Rail & Transit. Between Conway Scenic as the operator and the State of New Hampshire as the owner, I think we are keeping the former Mountain Division of the Maine Central Railroad in pretty good shape.
Summer is half gone! Make your plans to attend our Railfans’ Weekend which takes place on September 13 & 14 this year; we may have a surprise or two for you then. That weekend also marks the start of our fall foliage season service. We hope you can join us for a ride! As always we thank you for your interest in and support of the Conway Scenic Railroad.
Keep it safe.