Tag Archives: #Conway Scenic Railroad

May TRAINS Features Conway Scenic.

May 2020 Trains Cover.

My epic 8-page article on the Conway Scenic Railroad appears in the May 2020 Trains Magazine.

Months of research and personal experience contributed to my writing and illustrating this feature.

It was my hope to distill the railroad’s history, operations and spirit into these 8 pages.

Ironically, the magazine arrived the week following the railroad entering its unplanned period of dormancy owing to the on-going COVID-19 crisis and New Hampshire’s mandates in reaction to the crisis.

The photo below shows the waiting room on Friday afternoon with the first of several coats of fresh polyurethane in anticipation of the 2020 operating season.

12mm view with XT1 fitted with a Zeiss Touit.

Although ‘cocooned,’ with its operations postponed, Conway Scenic will continue to make preparations to reopen when the time is right to do so.

Tracking the Light Posts EVERY DAY!

Unfolding Situation at North Conway

Yesterday, David Swirk issued a statement explaining why the Conway Scenic Railroad will not resume operations as planned in April. I’ve included an excerpt of the statement below.

In recent weeks, I’ve been continuing to photograph, video record, and prepare advertising materials for the railroad. I’ve included a few photos of the way things appeared at North Conway on March 20, 2020.

We continue to plan for our delayed reopening.

Excerpt of Friday’s statement.

Conway Scenic Railroad will not resume operation as planned in April 2020. This is in compliance with the recently issued New Hampshire Stay-at-Home order that is going into effect ll:59 PM Friday, March 27, 2020. This order is in response to the unfolding Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation that is aimed to end the spread of the disease by restricting public movement and preventing non-essential businesses from opening. Conway Scenic Railroad will continue to closely watch the unfolding events relating to the containment of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation. Thank you for your patience and understanding.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Shadow at 64

During Conway Scenic Railroad’s Snow Train season last month, I took this photo from engine 573 as it approached milepost 64 along the Saco River.

We were plowing snow ahead of the scheduled train. The sun was rising behind the engine and it made for an interesting juxtaposition.

Exposed digitally with my Lumix LX7.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Running Extra

I made these views from the head-end of Conway Scenic Railroad’s 1630 Snow Train during the final days of operation last week.

I’d drafted the Snow Train timetable during early planning for the trains and I was keen for them to operate in a timely manner.

All trains were run as ‘extras’ under Conway Scenic Railroad’s tradition rulebook using timetable and train order rules.

Extra trains must display white flags by day and white lights by night.

The trains proved very popular with Conway Scenic’s guests and ridership exceeded expectations!

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Snow Plow Action

Yesterday forecasts of snow were dashed when rain fell instead.

Last week the story was a different one, and as previously reported on Tracking the Light, Conway Scenic Railroad sent a plow extra west to Attitash.

I made this view using my Lumix LX7, while recording the action using the railroad’s video camera.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily.

Snow Train Arriving.

Conway Scenic Railroad 1751 leads the evening Snow Train over the Post Office crossing at North Conway last week.

Conway Scenic is operating Snow Trains between the North Conway Station and Attitash through February 29th.

Exposed in February 2020 using a Lumix LX7 digital camera.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Frosty Dawn

Last week the lights were lit on Gertrude Emma—Conway Scenic Railroad’s 1898-built Pullman open-end observation car—when I made this early morning view at the North Conway station.

Exposed using a Lumix LX7 mounted on a Bogen tripod.

Tracking the Light Posts Everyday!

Clear Morning for Clearing Snow and a TV Appearance.

Thursday, February 20, 2020, for the second time in about a week, Conway Scenic dispatched its vintage Russell Snow plow to clear the line to Attitash.

I arrived at the North Conway station at  0545 and was prepared for a chase of the plow westbound. Complicating my efforts was that I had a TV interview with White Mountain TV16 scheduled at 0845.

I cut it a bit fine, but arrived at the studio in ample time to chat with host Rob Clark on air.  I don’t think too many viewers copped-on that I’d been freezing in the field making photos only minutes before stepping on set. (I’d changed hats in the interval).

See:  https://youtu.be/JmHALwifgTs

Snow Train Day and Night

On Tuesday February 18, 2020 it snowed most of the day at North Conway, New Hampshire.

Through out the day the Conway Scenic Railroad was operating its new Snow Trains between its famous North Conway station and Attitash in Bartett.

I made these views of the Snow Train set led by former Maine Central GP7 573 paused between runs at the North Conway B&M station.

Both were exposed using a Lumix LX7.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Plowing Snow with my Video Studio!

Shortly after arriving on the property at New Hampshire’s Conway Scenic Railroad last Spring, I asked owner David Swirk why he had an air-conditioner on his vintage Russel snow plow.

He laughed and said the plow was employed for various tasks. Later in the summer, my video editing studio was temporarily relocated to the plow, where I learned first hand of the importance of the air-conditioner!

Last week in preparation for commencement of February operations, Swirk decided it was time to send the Russel plow out to clear the line and widen the swath of snow made during previous plowing efforts using GP7 573.

So on Thursday, February 13, 2020 the plow was readied and dispatched by Train Order as a Work Extra 573 from North Conway Yard to Attitash pushed in traditional fashion by 573.

I hiked into the Whitaker Woods to document the plow at work, then followed along by road. Here are few of my photos.

Passing under Highway 302 near Bartlett, New Hampshire.

I also made a video, which I posted on Conway Scenic’s Facebook page:

This also appears on the railroad’s Instagram page.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Snow Trains—The First Day.

Some times plans don’t materialize as expected.

The day dawned with an arctic claw. This made for an azure sky, but was a tad difficult on the fingers.

I thought I’d be showing photos of RDC Millie in the New Hampshire snow.

Instead, I have some photos of former Maine Central GP7 573 pulling a four car consist as Conway Scenic’s Snow Train.

That turned out to be a good thing for the railroad and resulted in some unusual winter photos. The larger train accommodated the swell of passengers that arrived to travel.

For these photos I was working with my FujiFilm XT1 with 18-135mm zoom lens.

Tracking the Light Posts Everyday—even when its below zero!

Snow Train Trial.

Yesterday afternoon (Tuesday February 11, 2020), I traveled with the Conway Scenic train crew on RDC 23 Millie that was performing a trial-run of our new Snow Train  service that will begin this Saturday.

By arrangement, the crew dropped me at milepost 64 along the Saco River, so that I could make some video and still images of the RDC to be used in Conway Scenic promotions.

These images are low-res Jpgs downloaded from my FujiFilm XT1 to my iPhone via WiFi.

Westbound at Milepost 64 near Glen & Jackson, New Hampshire.
Eastbound at Milepost 65.
Laying over at Attitash.

I made a variety of other digital images that I hope to download soon.

Between February 15th to 29th, Conway Scenic Railroad will be running seven trains a day on an 90 minute interval between North Conway and Attitash. This is something new for the railroad!

Tracking the Light Posts Daily

White Flags: Extra 573 Clearing Snow Near Mountain Junction.

Friday, February 7, 2020, Conway Scenic dispatched former Maine Central GP7 573 as a work extra to clear the line to Attitash (near Bartlett, NH).

Icy rain and sleet had been falling throughout the day and it was beginning to turn to snow. Temperatures were expected to drop and by morning the snow would be like cement. Clearing the line while the snow was still slushy was imperative or this relatively small task could become an epic one.

Conway Scenic normally shuts its lines from early January until April. This year the railroad is planning a series of special trips during the last two weeks of February beginning with Cupid’s Express Valentines Day trains on February 14th, followed by Snow Trains that will run from North Conway to Attitash on a 90 minute interval beginning at 7:30 am.

The interval was my idea and I’ve planned a timetable for the event.

I traveled with the engine crew on 573 to document the day’s events and make notes. Near Mountain Junction (where the former Boston & Maine Conway Branch connects with the old Maine Central Mountain Division) 573 paused for the crew to clear a crossing. I made these photos using my FujiFilm XT1.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Monochrome: Steam in the Snow on Czech Film

During last month’s Steam in the Snow event at the Conway Scenic Railroad sponsored by the Massachusetts Bay Railroad Enthusiasts, I made a lot of digital photos and some video footage in my capacity as the railroad’s Manager, Marketing and Events.

But that wasn’t all.

Working with my Nikon F3 and a 50mm lens, I also exposed some Fomapan 100 Classic black & white film.

I first sampled this film on a trip to the Czech Republic in October 2016. I like the tonality and classic black & white appearance of this emulsion when processed in Ilford ID11 1-1. To boost shadow detail, I let the film pre-soak in a very weak bath of HC110 and Kodak Photoflo before primary processing.

Here’s a sample of my images.

Coming up soon, Conway Scenic will be running more trains in the snow. The railroad plans to run seven round trips a day from February 15th to 29th using Budd RDC number 23 Millie. The first trip departs North Conway at 730am and trains will run every 90 minutes to Attitash.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Maine Central 573 at Milepost 64—Two photos.

As a follow up to Monday’s post, I’m presenting these two photos of Maine Central 573 at milepost 64 on the old Mountain Division.

Friday, January 17, 2020, I was traveling with the Conway Scenic crew on their frosty expedition west toward Bartlett to inspect the line and clear snow.

I arranged for them to drop me near milepost 64 (east of the old Glen & Jackson station) where the line runs along the Saco.

Here I set up Conway Scenic’s company video camera with the help of Connor Maher, and made a short clip of the engine passing.

I also exposed these images with my FujiFilm XT1 with 18-135mm lens.

After filming, the locomotive crew collected us.

Flying white flags, old 573 was on home rails at milepost 64 along the Saco River.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Looking toward Mount Washington—three photos.

Friday, January 17, 2020, I joined the Conway Scenic train crew of a light engine sent west on the old Mountain Division to inspect the line and clear snow and as far as Rogers Crossing east of Bartlett, New Hampshire.

It was clear, cold afternoon, which made for some magnificent views along the Saco River and looking toward Mount Washington.

My primary intent was to document the move and gather some video footage of the railroad operating in the snow.

using my FujiFilm XT1 with 18-135mm lens, I made these views at milepost 62 west of Intervale.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Final Frame

Would you believe I almost threw this away?

I processed two rolls of Ilford HP5 last week. The final frame appeared as a blank lightly tinted gray rectangle. I nearly cut if off the end of roll when putting the negatives into the sleeve.

It was only when I scanned the photos that I saw the ghostly locomotive fading into its own misty effluence.

Conway Scenic Railroad’s 7470 in December 2019.

This wouldn’t have been the first time I accidently threw away my own work!

I’m glad I noticed it before it was too late!

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Two Steam Locomotives!

One photo inspires another. A few days ago my friend Wally Hill posted a view from the back of Conway Scenic Railroad’s Gertrude Emma—1898-built Pullman open observation—featuring steam locomotive 7470 passing former Maine Central 501 on its march toward the North Conway, New Hampshire station from the coal dock.

His photo inspired me to make similar images, and so working with my FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm lens, I stood in Wally’s footprints and made these photographs.


Tracking the Light Posts Daily.

North Conway Station at Night.

My Lumix LX7 is a wonderful picture making machine.

I exposed this view of Conway Scenic Railroad’s North Conway Station by positioning the LX7 atop a tripod and using the 2 second self timer to expose the photo.

This was just after ‘sunset’ and there was still a hint of color in the sky.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily.

Steam Switcher in the Mist—four Photos.

Some of the most atmospheric moments at the Conway Scenic Railroad occur in the gloom of night after all the visitors have departed.

I made these photos last night as 0-6-0 7470 worked the yard following the last trip of the day.

Working with my FujiFilm XT1 set at ISO 6400, I exposed these photos handheld. While trying to keep the ‘atmosphere’ off the front element of my lens.

Tracking the Light posts daily!

Not the New York Central—At Night!

Does anyone remember the spoof newspaper ‘Not the New York Times’?

Anyway, at first glance this nocturnal photo might be mistaken for a mid-1950s view of a New York Central EMD GP with a Bangor & Aroostook boxcar.

Of course there are lots of hints to the contrary. If you look carefully, the GP9 in this view has ditch lights (a feature of the 1990s and later). The paint scheme, while inspired by the ‘New York Central’ lightning stripe, isn’t really like anything actually used by the railroad on a GP9. And, of course this engine has dynamic braking grids (just barely visible at the top of the long hood), , which as everyone knows(to quote a phrase) isn’t representative of New York Central’s GP9s, since none had dynamic brakes.

Stupid details!

Tracking the Light Posts Daily.

High Hood GP35 On a Cold Morning

Pure GP35s are rare in 2019. Pure high hood GP35s are rarer still.

Conway Scenic’s high-hood GP35 216, originally a Norfolk & Western locomotive, basks in the cold morning sun at North Conway, New Hampshire on Saturday, December 7, 2019.

Exposed using my Lumix LX7.

Brian Solomon’s Tracking the Light Posts Daily.

Conway Scenic 7470 Switching in the North Yard—four photos.

At the end of June 2019, I exposed a few frames of Ilford HP5 using an old Nikkormat FTN with 105mm Nikkor Lens of Conway Scenic’s 0-6-0 7470 working the North Yard at North Conway, New Hampshire.

Following my normal presoak procedure; I processed the film using Ilford ID-11 mixed 1-1 with water for 6 minutes 15 secs at 70F.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Conrail and Conway in December 2019 TRAINS Magazine.

Travels have kept me on the move. But last night I finally sat down with the paper copy of December 2019 Trains and read my column on page 13 that talks about New York Central and Conway Scenic.

Cover of Dec 2019 trains.

There I am on page 13!

Here’s the scene I wrote about in the column but didn’t picture in the article. I made a couple of color slides here too.

Tracking the Light Posts Every Day!

Leaves at Frankenstein Trestle

Last June, while working with the Conway Scenic Railroad I exposed this view of fresh green foliage at the Frankenstein Trestle on the line over New Hampshire’s Crawford Notch.

I was working with an antique Nikon FTN Nikkormat with a Nikkor f1.8 105mm lens.

I like the ‘fast’ 105 because it allows for very shallow depth of field at its widest aperture, while offering exceptional sharpness on the area of focus.

This effect is especially appealing as a contrast to many modern digital systems that offer razor sharp images with great depth of field in most circumstances. Focus, like other qualities, may be most effective when applied judiciously.

I exposed this image on Ilford HP5 400ISO 35mm black & white film. I hand processed the film. After a presoak with very dilute HC110 for about 5 minutes, I introduced my primary developer, Ilford ID11 developer mixed 1 to 1 with water,  for 6 minutes and 15 seconds at 70F. By raising the temperature slightly and using a relatively dilute solution I controlled contrast while increasing shadow detail.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily.

Conway Scenic on Television!

Last month, one of my assignments at the Conway Scenic Railroad was to assist a television production crew from WCVB in Boston that was filming a segment on the railroad.

This was an interesting experience and I enjoyed speaking with the film crew and showing them around. I made sure they got to see some of the highlights of Conway Scenic’s run over Crawford Notch.

Channel 5 WCVB TV Camera operator Rich Ward.

Conway Scenic Railroad President and General Manager Dave Swirk anticipates the passage of the railroad’s Notch Train at the Gateway in Crawford Notch.

They interviewed Conway’s President and General Manager Dave Swirk, while off-camera I discussed airbrake technique and practices with locomotive engineer Gordon Lang.

I learned yesterday that the program will be broadcast this Thursday evening (September 5, 2019.) at 7:30pm on WCVB Channel 5 in Boston. It is part of the Chronicle show titled High Adventures.

The web address for the Boston WCVB Channel 5 TV is:

https://www.wcvb.com/chronicle

In Ireland I cannot access this website (for reasons beyond my knowledge it appears to be blocked), but perhaps my readers in the USA will be able to tune in.

Lumix LX7 photograph. Dave Swirk with WCVB production crew.

Anyone who knows me must realize the irony of this post.

Although I’ve appeared on television a few times, I’ve never owned a television set and have only watched commercial TV on rare occasions. I’ll be curious as to the feedback on Conway Scenic’s portrayal on High Adventures.

I offered my lesson in the importance of getting lots of exercise when filming a railroad.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Redstone Special

Panoramic composite photo of RDC 23 at Pudding Pond in July 2019.

One of the hidden gems of the Conway Scenic Railroad is their ‘Redstone Line’.

This is the former Maine Central Mountain Division trackage that runs compass east from Mountain Junction near Intervale, New Hampshire.

This summer I had several opportunities to catch RDC number 23 Millieworking Friday afternoon specials to Redstone.

I’m now 4,000 miles from Redstone, but this weekend will be a very rare opportunity to travel the full length of Conway’s Maine Central trackage on a special run scheduled to depart North Conway at 9am.

This special Notch Train will run to the Saco River Bridge east of Redstone and then proceed back west to Mountain Junction and continue all the way over Crawford Notch to the west-end of Conway Scenic trackage at Hazens near Whitefield.

It will also be an opportunity to catch steam locomotive 7470 on the branch and over the mountain.

I’ll have to have one huge telephoto to catch the action from Islandbridge (in Dublin!!)

See: https://www.conwayscenic.com/events/

RDC 23 on the Redstone Line at Pudding Pond in North Conway.


RDC 23 near Redstone in July 2019.
Redstone line along North Conway’s North-South road.

Brian Solomon’s Tracking the Light Posts daily!

There has to be Rain for a Rainbow.

One week ago, I was sitting in the North Tower of Conway Scenic’s North Conway Station. To the west the sun was shining. To the east it was pouring rain, and the rain was still falling all around. I said to Conway’s operations manager, Derek Palmieri, ‘There must be a rainbow.’

And there was!

Briefly it was a full, but faint, double.

Outside I went, where I made a variety of photos with my Lumix LX7 and FujiFilm XT1 cameras.

This one is from the Lumix.

Sometimes where there’s a rainbow is a sign of change. A fortuitous signal for the future. And this is how I see it.

Tracking the Light posts Every Day!

Moat Creek Trestle and a Bear!

I’d been eying Conway Scenic’s wooden pile Moat Creek trestle as a good afternoon photo location since I arrived at the railroad in May.

While I’d made a variety of angles from West Side Road that runs parallel to the line, until last Friday (August 9, 2019) I hadn’t hiked into the bridge.

As discussed in yesterday’s post ‘Rare Move During My Signing—GP9 works the yard,’ the necessity to move a few old freight cars posed some unusual photographic opportunities.

When I learned that GP7 573 would be hauling a flatcar down to Conway, New Hampshire for storage, I decided this would make for my opportunity to catch a train in low afternoon sun on the Moat Creek Trestle.

Old 573 was whistling for a crossing just north of the bridge when I heard loud rustling in a tree opposite the tracks from my location. A sizeable bear climbed down out of the tree and ambled through the undergrowth about a car-length from my position.

Of course, I’d selected a prime 27mm lens to frame the train on the bridge and this lens was less than ideal for photographing the bear.

The photographs of the train and bear were exposed about a minute apart.

Running extra to Conway, New Hampshire.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Rare Move During My Signing—GP9 works the yard.

Sometimes when engaged with one task, something unexpected occurs that demands your attention.

Such was the situation last Friday while I was standing on the platform at North Conway, New Hampshire during my book signing event.

Conway Scenic’s GP9, 1751, still dressed in a New York Central inspired livery applied by former owner Finger Lakes Railway, was engaged to switch a few freight cars out of the North Yard.

In more than two months at Conway Scenic, the only freight car that I’d seen turn a wheel is a tank car that has been rigged up to supply water for steam locomotive 7470. So when I saw 1751 moving the two ancient flats in the yard, I excused myself from book signing tasks and made a few photos with my FujiFilm XT1.

There was gorgeous afternoon light bathing the North Conway station. The Valley excursion train was out on the line, so in one of the odd moments, the platform was almost empty and there few cameras in sight.

Later in the day, in a related incident I had a close encounter with an alarmingly large bear, but I’ll get to that in a future post.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily! 

Brian’s Signing Event

Yesterday, Friday August 9, 2019, I traveled by train and signed books at the North Conway Station (New Hampshire).

I discovered that’s its pretty challenging to sign books while traveling on early 20thcentury steel coaches rolling over jointed rail on track ballasted with cinders!

Conway Scenic’s Derek Palmieri assisted me with selling the books, as did Amy from Conway Scenic’s Brass Whistle Gift Shop. The railroad’s Susan Logan, Alta Crouse and Cathy Trecarten helped organize and promote the event.

Thanks to Dave and Rhonda Swirk for hosting me and to everyone who stopped by for a chat and to buy books!

Here I am hold my Railway Guide to Europe! Photo by Derek Palmieri.

We had a nice selection of my books on display.
Conway Scenic Railroad operations manager Derek Palmieri.

I was delighted when my old friend Bob Bentley came by to talk about railroads. He reminded me that GP9 1757, formerly of the New Hampshire Northcoast, was briefly a Mass-Central locomotive.

It was a fine day for a book signing!

Bob Bentley and Derek Palmieri on the platform of the North Conway station.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Rhonda Lee Summer Sunset.

Last night, August 8, 2019, I traveled on Conway Scenic’s Dinner Train for the second evening in a row.

The purpose of my trip was in preparation for some more involved filming in the coming days.

However, when we arrived at Bartlett, New Hampshire we were greeted by a stunning summer sunset, I reached for a camera. Well, actually three cameras. I reached for three cameras.

I then arranged with conductor Derek Palmieri to make a few photos.

Budd Vista dome  Rhonda Lee (née Silver Splendor) has only been recently re-lettered and made for a fine sight catching the summer sunset.

These images were the products from my FujiFilm XT1 fitted with a Zeiss 12mm Touit lens.

I also exposed a few images with my Lumix LX7. I’m sure someone will groan when they read that I made black & white views on Ilford HP5 with a Nikon F3.

You’ll have to wait for the film photos, as it might be a few weeks before I have the time or facilities to process them.

Bartlett is one of my favorite places to catch Conway Scenic, and it seems I’m here almost every day, by road or by rail!

Don’t forget, today August 9, 2019, I’ll be signing books on Conway Scenic’s 1330 (130pm) Valley Train to Conway, and at the North Conway Station from 230 to 5pm!

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Headline: Author Brian Solomon at Conway Scenic Railroad

Thanks to Ireland’s Colm O’Callaghan for the portrait of me in a narrow gauge locomotive.

Tuesday’s Conway Daily Sun featured a short story about my books to highlight my book signing event tomorrow afternoon, Friday 9, 2019 at the Conway Scenic Railroad.

Although short, this article covered some of the highlights of my published work including my European Railway Guide, columns in Trains Magazine, and photos in the Journal of the Irish Railway Record Society!

Conway Scenic’s Susan Logan gave me a copy of the article, which I read while traveling on the 6 pm dinner train in preparation for a video/photo shoot this weekend.

When it rains it pours, and it did!

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!