We started off the New Year right with our seventh annual Steam in the Snow excursion that ran to Notchland on Saturday, January 4th. There were well over 300 fans aboard for the five hour trip which was sponsored by the Massachusetts Bay Railroad Enthusiasts. Temperatures were frigid on the night before the trip and my car was recording -19 when I was driving to the Station early Saturday morning. These extremely low temperatures made for some extra spectacular displays of steam from the exhaust of 7470!
The low temperatures along with flange drag from the accumulated snow caused us to keep 573 on the train this year on the return from Notchland. In years’ past, we have pulled the train ‘by the tail’ from North Conway to Notchland where we have cut off the diesel and let 7470 take the train back to North Conway. This year 7470 needed some extra help to pull through the drifts.
At Cobb Farm Road in Bartlett, we tried cutting the diesel off for the first run-by, but 7470 was not able to back the train up after it got stopped. The engine came to a stop about a train’s length East of second iron. This happens to be on a curve with a 1.5% downgrade. Add the grade, the curve resistance, the flange drag, the low temperatures – and the fact that the sander pipes had become blocked with snow – and the result was that 7470 just couldn’t get enough of a grip on the rails to back the train out of that hole. So 573 came down to assist, and we left her on for the rest of the trip to North Conway.
We did run-bys at Notchland, Cobb Farm Road, Glen Ellis and Woodland Pines. Bartlett Village was eliminated as a stop due to the time we lost at Cobb Farm, and we had previously decided not to stop at Gove’s overhead bridge because of the depth of the snow there. At North Conway, after everyone had gotten off the train, we backed out and made a ‘second arrival’ for the cameras. Then 7470 went over to the house where we dropped the fire, and she went into stall #2 for a long winter’s nap.
Railroading of any kind is difficult under these conditions. My deep thanks go out to all of our employees who worked so hard to keep the line open so that we could run this train. They kept the track switches shoveled out and they kept all of the crossings salted so that the flangeways would be clear for the passage of trains. The Platform and parking lot had to be cleared of snow and ice; we battled freeze-ups onboard the passenger cars in order to keep the restrooms working. All of our employees worked long and hard to make this experience possible. In the end it was so worth it!! Thanks, too, go out to all of you who came from miles around (some from as far away as Kentucky) to ride this train! Without you, we don’t turn a wheel. Hopefully, we will be able to offer this kind of steam powered excursion again in the future.
At the Roundhouse, the new concrete floor is completely in and useable in stall #2. Track #1’s new pit has been poured, and the rails have been bolted down over it, but more concrete has to be poured on the turntable end as well as the opposite end. I’d say we are still about a month away from being able to use track #1, and that is putting a bit of a crimp into our winter maintenance program. When it is all done, though, we will have a really nice facility that will be a boon to the maintenance of our rolling stock and locomotives.
We finally received that shipment of HO FP9A’s from Rapido that are painted up and numbered for Conway Scenic. These loco’s don’t have sound but the detail they have is absolutely amazing! We will have some with us to sell at the big Amherst Railway Hobby Show in West Springfield, Mass. This year the show will be held on Saturday and Sunday, January 25 & 26. Be sure to stop at our table in the Better Living Center and say ‘Hi’!
We hope that you all have a safe and prosperous 2014!