We are pleased to announce that we will be running a train all the way to the Whitefield diamond as a part of our Railfans’ Weekend this year on Sunday, September 3rd. After many years of wanting to offer a trip like this, the time is now right to make it happen. Our thanks go out to the New Hampshire Central Railroad, which is the operator of the line, and to the State of New Hampshire’s Bureau of Rail and Transit which is the owner of the line, for allowing us to operate over it.
The Whitefield, NH, diamond was the location of the last active ball signal in the United States. The tracks of the Maine Central Railroad crossed those of the Boston & Maine Railroad at this location. One ball by day or one light by night at the masthead signaled that the trains of the B&M Railroad had the right of way, while two balls or lights at the masthead gave rights for the trains of the Maine Central to pass.
Our special train will depart North Conway and run to Hazens at Mile Post #101 on the Sunday of Railfans’ Weekend, but instead of reversing direction there as we normally do, we will pick up a pilot engineer from NHC RR who will be in charge of the train as we make the run to the diamond. The train will make the 2½ mile run beyond Hazen on the B&M side as the MEC track currently has a long string of storage cars on it. Our special train will cross the diamond which is located at MP 103.41 and stop just before the Route 3 crossing where the former B&M station is located and has found a new life as a Dunkin Donuts Coffee Shop.
The plan is to let passengers off the train, then back the train up just past the diamond where we can get some good photos. The train will then pull back down to the crossing where everyone will reboard, and then we will head back to Hazens before returning to North Conway. We plan to have locomotives on both ends of the train with former Maine Central GP38 #252 doing the arrival honors at Whitefield. To the best of my knowledge, the last passenger extra ran across the Diamond in 1997. Regular Maine Central passenger service ended in 1958. Tickets for this rare mileage are now available by calling our reservations office at (603) 356-5251.
Since the last WHEEL REPORT was written, we have hy-railed the entire line from Redstone to Hazen (and also to Route 3 in the center of the town of Whitefield), and I am pleased to report that we’ve found things to be in generally good order. The water level is a bit high at Pudding Pond, which means the beavers are at it again, but the track is passable and in no danger there. There is brush cutting to be done, and the State Highway Department, under the direction of the NH Bureau of Rail & Transit, made some repairs to crossing guard rails at Rogers Crossing in Bartlett (Portland Road Rte 302) and the to the long diagonal crossing up at Fabyans (also Portland Road Rte 302). Overall we are in good shape!
There was a major television network production crew on the property for one day recently. They filmed an exciting scene in the area of Frankenstein Trestle. We hear that the finished product is going to be a mini-series “that will be seen by millions!” I look forward to seeing that myself!
Budd season is now over, and the Valley train consist is running at this time. Shortly we will be switching the equipment around into the two normal Valley and Notch consists, and on Tuesday, June 13, trips to Crawford Notch will begin.
As always, we thank you for your support of and interest in the Conway Scenic Railroad.
KEEP IT SAFE