We are moving rapidly toward full season now with just a couple of weeks to go before we begin regular service to the Notch. We have already operated our first train to Crawford Station which was a charter for a Canadian tour group. This means that we had to have the Crawford Notch Line between Bartlett and Crawford Station open about two weeks sooner than we normally do.
Fortunately, the line was found to be in good condition when we did our first inspection this year. The State of New Hampshire DOT, Bureau of Rail & Transit, who are the owners of the Crawford Notch Line, have had a rock scaling contractor working in the area of the Gateway. This contractor has been pro-actively removing some loose rock formations along the track there and drilling holes for and installing ‘pins’ in other locations to insure stability of the rock walls. As part of this job, a hy-rail equipped excavator and dump truck owned by the Hobo Railroad were used to remove the rock that fell to the railroad grade.
Down at the other end of the line, we were preparing for the May 31st steam powered trip sponsored by the Massachusetts Bay Railroad Enthusiasts. One part of this excursion was slated to run on what we call the ‘Quarry Branch.” This is the line to Portland, Maine, which we operate as far as Redstone, which is a village in the Town of Conway.
Along the Quarry Branch is Pudding Pond where the track runs along one edge of the pond. Our old friends the beavers had been working industriously to raise the level of said pond for their own selfish interests! This activity led to flooding of the track at that location. We had to wade through there last September with our trains (during railfans’ weekend), but this spring the water level was actually up over the rails by ½ an inch for a distance of maybe 20’.
We hired a local man (who understands how beavers think) to make a ‘beaver deceiver’ for us. It is nothing more than a square box made of wood and about twenty feet long that is placed through the beaver dam. It allows water to drain out of the pond without the noise of water running and when the beavers can’t hear the water running they make no effort to stop it –thus they are deceived! Pure genius. The end result was that we lowered the water level about 8” which got it down below the level of the ties. Since the water is not ‘moving’ at that location, there was no damage to the track structure and we were able to operate the train through there. I think the photo stop at Pudding Pond was the scenic highlight of the entire Mass Bay trip!
Cory F. has spent a lot of time repainting one of our ballast cars and with the assistance of Jimmy A. who made the vinyl for it and has done a fabulous job recreating a Maine Central Railroad styled ‘ballast service’ car. Right now the car is located in the North Yard at North Conway and is well worth a look see if you are in the area. THANK YOU, Cory.
There are many people who spend time around the railroad painting mileposts or operating signals or cutting brush or whatever it is that they do for us, and their excellent work shows in the final product. Thank you to all for all you do.
The contractor who did the new floor in the roundhouse for us was here again recently doing some final clean up around the outside of the roundhouse. Part of this work involved paving, so while he was at it, we had him pave the rail crossing at the entrance to our parking lot. Right after the old pavement was removed, we raised the existing mainline track a bit and tamped it tightly with our tamper. Then the area was paved and now it looks gorgeous! There is never an end to these kinds of projects around the Railroad.
On Saturday, we will be hosting the first of our six Murder Mystery Dinner Trains of the year. This year’s theme is Death at Club 54 – it’s a groovy kind of murder! and the first event is sold out. It’s hard to believe, but our old friend Thomas will be returning to the Railroad in just a month, traveling all the way from the Isle of Sodor to entertain and delight the youngest of our fans. Another busy summer season is before us!
As always, we thank you for your continued interest and support of the Conway Scenic Railroad.
Keep it safe,