Tag Archives: #Conway Scenic Railroad

Views from the Plow Extra

Thursday I traveled with Conway Scenic’s Plow Extra to Attitash, and then east from Mountain Junction down the Redstone Branch to Kearsarge in North Conway.

My primary objective of this trip was to make video footage of the plowing and plow crew for Conway Scenic, both to document the activity and to help promote the railroad.

I used my Nikon Z-series mirrorless camera to record both still photos and video. In general, I feel more confident in my ability to work with still images than video, but I still made a lot of video clips which I am now editing into a short film that will hopefully play on Conway Scenic’s Facebook page as well as other accessible media.

Below are a few of the still photos from Thrusday’s adventure on the rails.

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Plow Extra Preview

Winter has finally made its footprint in New Hampshire’s White Mountains.

After weeks of unseasonable weather that led to speculation that snow was a thing of the past, a series of snow storms has brought plently of snow.

Following a heavy snow fall that lasted most of the day on Monday (January 23, 2023), Conway Scenic called a plow extra on Tuesday to clear its lines.

I made these views of Work X255 in the yard at North Conway as the crew was getting ready to head west to Attitash.

I worked with the NEF RAW files in Adobe Lightroom to make the most of the dramatic sky. Adjustments included my standard repertoire; lighten shadows, darken highlights, adjust color temperature and color saturation and scale for internet presentation.

Later I followed the Plow Extra west to make photos of it clearing the tracks.

Stay tuned!

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Covered Wagons—Crew and Photographers.

A week ago Saturday (January 7, 2023), Kris and I participated and observed in Mass Bay Railroad Enthusiasts’s Covered Wagons in the Snow, a trip I helped plan and organize.

Previously, I presented photos of the train. Here, I’m displaying photos of the train crew, Mass-Bay’s car hosts, and a few of the dozens of photographers that participated.

All photos were exposed using my Nikon Z6 and Z7-II digital cameras.

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F’s in the Snow—The Preamble.

January 7, 2023, Conway Scenic Railroad hosted Massachusetts Bay Railroad Enthuasiast’s Covered Wagons in the Snow photo charter.

I helped arrange and organize this uncommon trip and spent countless hours working with Mass Bay RRE’s Dave Brown, members of the 470 Club (which owns the two former Boston & Maine F7As that were the stars of the day) and the Conway Scenic staff to refine the details.

Mother nature cooperated and provided several inches of fresh powdery snow the night before the trip.

The morning of the trip, I conducted a safety briefing with Mass Bay’s people, and Kris and I made photos of the F-units in the North Conway, NH yard.

We traveled on the train and during the course of the trip we made hundreds of winter F-unit inspired images.

More to follow over the coming days!

Nikon Z-6 Mirrorless digital camera with 70-200mm lens.
Nikon Z-6 Mirrorless digital camera with 70-200mm lens.
Nikon Z-6 Mirrorless digital camera with 70-200mm lens.

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Cleaning the Rhonda Lee

Yesterday, in preparation for excursions this coming weekend, Conway Scenic’s Buildings & Grounds crew cleaned the cars with a power washer.

The ambient temperature was just above freezing combined with a high dew point led to some visually atmospheric conditions to try out my Z7-II.

I made these photos as NEF RAW files and made nominal adjustments using Adobe Lightroom.


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Work Extra Camera Comparison

Yesterday, Conway Scenic operated a Work Extra on the Conway Branch using GP9 1751. I traveled on the train and at Conway I made several photos of the locomotive collecting a flatcar from some rarely traveled trackage beyond the station.

On the way down, I made a vareity of photos with my Lumix LX7, and noticed that the battery was going flat.

After I exposed a view of the locomotive on the siding, the camera shut down. So, I climbed back on board to get my new Nikon Z7-II to get a few more photos. What I’ve displayed below are unadjusted RAW files from both cameras followed by adjusted versions of each aimed at improving exposure, contrast, shadow and highlight detail, and color temperature.

Lumix LX7 RAW file unadjusted except for scaling. ISO 80
Same Lumix LX7 RAW file, this time adjusted for contrast, exposure, color temperature and shadow and highlight detail. ISO 80
Nikon Z7-II NEF RAW file unadjusted except for scaling. ISO100
Same Nikon Z7-II NEF RAW file following adjustments for contrast, color temperature, exposure and shaodw and highlight detail. ISO100

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Boston & Maine F7As-Variation on a Theme

The other day there was nice afternoon light in the yard at North Conway, NH. The 470 Club’s famous pair of F7As were positioned on the Short Track in front of Conway Scenic’s 1874 passenger station building and the passenger consist was out on the branch which made of a nice photo opportunity.

I made this series of three-quarter roster-style views, making slight changes to my angle to alter foreground and background. Among the items I was trying to include were the station building and the flags in the distance, while also paying attention to the clouds and making slight exposure adjustments.

All were made with my Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm lens.

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Christmas Evening

Last night, December 25, 2022, I made this view looking across Schouler Park toward the North Conway, NH railroad station.

The park was once property of the Boston & Maine Railroad.

I exposed the photo in the ‘Night’ setting using ‘Scene Mode’ on my Lumix LX7 which creates a photo using a composite of several high-iso images exposed in rapid succession and combined in-camera.

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Work Extra on the Mountain

Yesterday was clear morning in New Hampshire’s White Mountains.

Conway Scenic had a Work Extra heading toward Crawford, which represented a rare December move on the old Mountain Division

I followed the train west by road to make these photos with my Nikon Z6.

North Conway, NH.
Goves, near Bartlett.

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Millie & Santa Lumix Sequence

Monday, RDC 23 ‘Millie’ made a trip to Conway with a holiday charter.

I was rostered as the ‘motorman’ and so ran the car as per train order.

At Conway, I switched to Marketing-mode and made a series of Millie with Santa and her passengers using a Lumix LX7..

As an excercise in compositional comparison, I’ve posted most of Millie’s Santa sequence, and in order of exposure..

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Color Slides of Our Special

Yesterday, I received back 14 rolls of color slides spanning six months of photography.

Among these were photos I made of our Wedding Special, operated on September 17, 2022 courtesy of Conway Scenic Railroad on the Conway Branch using RDC Millie. I was the engineer that day and at several locations I spotted the train for photos.

It was a perfect day. I made several Fujichrome Provia 100F slides to preserve the event.

Both of these slides were exposed using a Nikon F3 with 50mm Nikkor lens and scanned with a Nikon LS5000 slide scanner powered by VueScan software. The film was processed by AgX Lab in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan.

Of the thousands of trains I’ve photographed over the years, none could compare to this one. Many of our friends and family joined us on the run to Conway. Kris and I were married the next day—September 18th (two months ago).

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Washing the Trains.

It was unseasonably warm in the White Mountains last week, so Conway Scenic’s crew took the opportunity to wash the trains.

I made these photos for the company’s Facebook page using my Nikon Z6.

To get the sunburst effect, I set the aperture to f22 on my 24-70mm zoom.

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Photographing Crossing Repair

Among the myriad aspects of Conway Scenic Railroad that I photograph as part of my job are various maintenance and repair projects.

On Thursday, Novemeber 10, 2022, I traveled in HyRail TC207 to the site of crossing repair at Intervale Lane (east of milepost 63).

This cooperative effort between the town of Bartlett, NH DOT and the railroad were aimed to repair and improve the grade crossing and to allow a smoother ride for highway traffic, improve running time for Conway Scenic and ease future repair to the track.

It was necessary to coordinate the repair effort to allow trains to safely pass over the crossing between elements of the repair and repaving activity.

I made these photos using my Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm lens.

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Millie and the Sun

A few days ago, I exposed this high contrast view of Conway Scenic Railroad’s Budd RDC ‘Millie’ at Conway, New Hampshire using my Lumix LX7 digital camera.

The camera simultaneously saves each exposure as a RAW and JPG file. I’ve set the camera to profile the JPG with the in-camera ‘Vivid’ color setting.

In this sequence, I compare the un-altered camera RAW (RW2) file with the un-altered in-camera JPG file and my altered (adjusted) Jpg image that I manipulated in Adobe Lightroom to make the most of the camera RAW data. Notice the differences to shadow and highlight detail.

I’ve also included a screen shot of the Lightroom work window to reveal the changes that I made.

Un-adjusted RW2 (scaled without color or contrast corrections)

Un-adjusted in-camera JPG with ‘Vivid’ color profile.
Adjusted RW2 (RAW) file with changes made using Adobe Lightroom.

Screenshot of the Adobe Lightroom work window showing the position of sliders to adjusted RW2 file.

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Frankenstein Van Wrap

To help promote Conway Scenic Railroad’s culinary services, I arranged to have the company culinary van wrapped with photos of the railroad.

For the sides of the van, I opted for a photo of the Mountaineer at Frankenstein Bridge that I exposed in September 2020. This image appears in many of the railroad’s billboard, print and digital ads and has become a marketing icon.

JPG of the original photo used in the van wrap and other Conway Scenic Railroad advertising.

The back of the van is decorated with a classic view of the North Conway, New Hampshire railroad station that also appears in print ads.

Silverline Graphics assisted with the basic design concept, and SignSmith LLC of Gorham, Maine performed final design and applied the wrap to the van.

I made these photos of the van in the railroad’s North Conway yard.

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Magic 105 at Frankenstein

I’m speaking about my Nikkor f2.5 105mm and the famous trestle, and not about a radio station and a monster.

After returning from Ireland, I made a trip to inspect the former Maine Central Mountain Division to check out photo locations for the 470 Club Trip.

Here, I’d hiked into the Frankenstein bridge to see when the sun dipped behind the ridge shadowing the tracks. Owing to the high ridge line the bridge will shadow very quickly on a late fall afternoon.

The eastward Mountaineer was just minutes away when I arrived.

I fitted my old AI Nikkor 105mm to my Nikon Z6 digital camera. This is a magic combination for railroad photography which produced exceptionally sharp photos.

Yesterday, I posted a modified version of this image to Conway Scenic Railroad’s Facebook page and assigned it as the cover photo. It will also be used in late season advertising for the Mountaineer.

Conway Scenic Railroad’s Mountaineer is eastbound on Frakenstein Bridge. New Hampshire’s famed Mount Washington is seen in the distance to the right of bridge.
This is a cropped and much enlarged section of the above image to demonstrate the sharpness of my old 105mm.

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Eastwood Station on the 501

Friday, the musical duo Eastwood Station visited North Conway where they performed live for Conway Scenic Railroad’s guests, made live appearances on the radio, and recorded scenes for video featuring a song about Maine Central steam locomotive 505.

505 was famously destroyed in a boiler explosion 95 years ago.

I arranged for Eastwood Station to record on locomotive 501, a surviving sister to the ill-fated 505, which presently resides inside the North Conway Roundhouse.

A glint of sun illuminated the cab for a few minutes making this photo possible.

Exposed digitally using a Nikon Z6 mirrorless camera fitted with a 24-70mm Z-series zoom.

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In the Shadows of Crawford Notch

Must all great rail photos be bathed in sunlight?

I’ve asked this question before. While it is nice to have bright sun, often I find the best photos are in the shadows where light and dark contrast to produce a moody image that tugs at something deeper.

Last week after arranging the photo runbys at the famed Willey Brook Bridge, I walked to the headend of the train while the passengers were reboarding. Here the 470 Club’s freshly painted F7A diesels were deep in shadow with the mass of Mount Willard looming above them.

I made these photos using my Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm lens and adjusted highlight and shadow areas in post processing.

For me these were among of the best photos of the day. They capture the rugged scenery of Crawford Notch from perspectives rarely pictured.

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Willey Brook Bridge

One of the photographic highlights of last Saturday’s 470 Club trip was the stop at the famous Willey Brook Bridge in Crawford Notch.

To accommodate the train’s passengers, I helped organize two photo runbys at this iconic location.

Since several passengers asked to photograph from the ‘sunnyside’ of the bridge, I walked them across the tracks and called the train into position for the second runby.

I made this selection using my Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm lens, and also exposed several color slides using a Nikon F3 film camera.

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Boston & Maine F7s at Hussey’s Field

The first official photo stop on 470 Club’s Autumn 2022 trip (operated by Conway Scenic Railroad on Saturday October 22, 2022) was a photo runby on the Conway Branch at Hussey’s Field in Conway, NH. [I was responsible for the train schedule and assisting with organizing the photo stops.]

I chose this location for the first photo stop because it offered ample space for all the train’s passengers to spread out; provided good lighting for an eastward (northward) morning train; and was largely free from shadows, and distracting background elements.

This was the only photo stop on the former Boston & Maine Conway Branch. The other arranged photo locations were all on the former Maine Central Mountain Division

I made these photos using my Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm lens.

More photos from the 470 Club trip to follow in the coming days.

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470 Club Annual Trip—F7s at North Conway

Saturday, October 22, 2022, Conway Scenic Railroad operated the annual 470 Club autumn charter.

This year the train was assigned the club’s pair of former Boston & Maine F7A diesels Nos. 4266 and 4268, which are painted in the classic General Motors designed maroon and harvest gold livery.

I was asked to draft the trip schedule and assist with arranging photo stops for the train on its journey.

I made this group of photos of the F’s and the special train at North Conway using my Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm lens

During the course of the day, the special ran to Conway over the former Boston & Maine Conway Branch, and then west over Crawford Notch to Fabyan, New Hampshire on the former Maine Central.

The weather was outstanding with ‘wall to wall’ sunshine from dawn to dusk.

More photos to follow over the coming days.

View from the cab of 4266.
f22 1/60 sec at ISO 200, lens set to 24mm. The small aperture allows for the sunburst effect.

Frankenstein-Two Years Ago Today.

Step back to September 28, 2020. I had just bought my Nikon Z6 mirrorless camera. The foliage was turning, and I hiked up to the famed Frankenstein Trestle to catch the Mountaineer on its ascent of Crawford Notch.

This photo is among my favorites from 2020. I have used it extensively to promote Conway Scenic Railroad. It has appeared in various magazines and newspapers. The railroad sells refrigerator magnets featuring this image in the North Conway Brass Whistle Gift Shop, and we had monochromatic hoodies made up as well.

Saturday, September 17, 2022, Conway Daily Sun featured the photo on the cover of the newspaper.

The photo was exposed with my Z-series 24-70mm zoom set at 26mm, aperture at f4; camera shutter speed to 1/1000th of a second. I made adjustments to shadows, highlights and color temperature and saturation using Adobe Lightroom.

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Brian & Kris’s Wedding Extra-Lumix Jpgs

On Saturday, September 17, 2022, I’d arranged with Conway Scenic’s operating department to take Budd RDC-23 Millie on a special trip for our wedding guests.

We boarded at the North Conway grade crossing as the regularly scheduled Sawyer River excursions boarded at the station platform on the adjacent tracks.

I served as motorman, Rob Flannigan as conductor. We had more than 27 guests on board.

The weather was perfect; bright sun and blue skies.

Since our train was not operating on a schedule, we ran as an ‘extra’ and carried white flags, as per rulebook 34.

Our first stop was at the Moat Brook bridge, where we let guests off to make photos. We also stopped at the Swift River Bridge and at the Conway freight house.

Many of our closest friends and family were on board, including several long-time Tracking the Light readers. My friend Chris Guss made some drone photos of the event.

It was a lovely day for a train ride! In addition to these digital photos exposed with my Lumix LX7, I made seveal Fujichrome Provia 100F color slides.

My friends posed for photos with Millie.
Re-boarding near Moat Brook.
Photo stop at the Swift River Bridge.

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Poles and Wires Conundrum

Assemblies of poles and wires can make or break a photo location.

I’ve been flummoxed by the location on the former Mountain Division known as Goves, where the railroad ducks under Rt 302 on the way to Bartlett.

This is one of a scant few overpasses on the Conway Scenic Railroad. What makes the location difficult are several sets of road-side wires that run both parallel and perpendicular to the railroad line.

Wires and poles can create visually distracting elements that can disrupt a composition . Especially difficult are very heavy black cables in this scene that are thoroughly distracting and difficult to minimize.

Yesterday, I photographed the westbound Conway Scenic Mountaineer at Goves and the poles and wires ended up bisecting the scene in various awkward ways.

Below I’ve included two sets of photos, the top image in each set shows the uncropped image; the bottom in each set shows selective cropping aimed at minimizing the effect of the poles and wires.

Full-frame, without cropping.
Full-frame, without cropping.

252 from the Roof

Friday, September 2, 2022, former Maine Central GP38 252 led the Valley train on its return run from Conway.

I made this view from the roof of the North Conway Station using my Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm Z-series zoom lens.

I set the camera Color Profile to ‘VI’ (Vivid), the white balance was at ‘Auto,’ and the exposure to ‘A’ (aperture priority). I selected f6.3, the camera metering selected 1/500th of a second. I had the lens full extended at 200mm. I was working with the NEF (RAW) file setting.

Adobe Lightroom enables me to apply the camera’s preset color profile to the NEF file while making adjustments to the file. Below are two versions. The top image is basically out of the camera and without modifications except for scaling, the bottom reflects minot adjustments to color temperature, shadow and highlight density, and a slight adjustment to the sky.

I’m not entirely satisfied with the image, so I’ll try it again sometime. Maybe with a slightly longer lens and different lighting.

Unmodified file with camera profiled color & etc.
Adjusted version of the same file shown above. Changes to color temp, shadow and highlights, and sky

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Telephoto of Steam!

Yesterday (September 3, 2022), Kris and I stopped in at Conway, NH to observe the arrival of the morning train led by steam locomotive 7470.

This is the last weekend of regularly scheduled steam service for the summer season and I wanted to make a few photos and catch up with steam locomotive engineer Wayne Duffett.

I made these photos of the 7470 and crew at Conway using my Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm Z-series zoom. By working with the variable focal length telephoto I was able to quickly compose images of the crew and their locomotive.

All images were exposed in the NEF (RAW) format, imported into Adobe Lightroom for adjustment, and exported as JPGs for internet display.

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New Hampshire Chronicle Visits Conway Scenic

Last week Senior Producer Mary-Paige and camera-man Joel visited Conway Scenic Railroad to film the musical duo Eastwood Station.

Ben and Danny of Eastwood Station have been paying weekly visits to the railroad to play railroad songs.

I spent the day documenting the TV crew’s visit and assisting with their safe access to the railroad, which included a trip to Sawyer River and back.

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To the Border!

Last week I was on a mission from Conway Scenic.

The railroad’s new dome was on the move and expected to cross the border from Canada in the early evening.

I drove to the border station at Norton, Vermont to meet St. Lawrence & Atlantic/St Lawrence & Quebec’s eastward (southward) freight 394 that was in transit from Richmond, Quebec.

Norton is where the US Border Patrol conducts their inspections.

I met the train, and with permission, made a few photographs to document the event. Luckily the train was relatively early and it was still daylight at the time of the crossing.

The whole event went very smoothly.

It was very exciting to see the ‘new’ car. This Budd Vista Dome was built in the 1950s for Northern Pacific’s North Coast Limited and has a long history.

Stay tuned . . . . .

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Something Random and Familiar

I was looking for something else and I found a box of Fujichrome slides: on it was written ‘VRS’. Nothing more.

Inside are a bunch of gems from early 1998. Photographer Mike Gardner and I had made a trip to Rutland, Vermont where we photographed a Vermont Rail System local freight that worked a Clarendon & Pittsford job to a quarry.

This was just a few weeks before I made my first trip to England and Ireland. Months later when I returned from across the Atlantic, this box of slides sat on my desk. I don’t think I ever look at it. None of the slides are labled and they are all in numerical order.

Today, it has special significance to me. Leading the train is Clarendon & Pittsford GP38 number 203.

That’s former Maine Central 255, now Conway Scenic 255. It is the locomotive I see almost every day! Back then it was just another red VRS EMD diesel.

I scanned the slide using a Nikon LS5000 scanner driven by VueScan software. I scanned as a high-res TIF file then imported into Adobe Lightroom for some minor adjustments.

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Maine Central 252 at West Side Road.

Wednesday (August 24, 2022) I was running errands around North Conway-Conway, New Hampshire. Between stops, I paused for a few minutes at West Side Road to catch the 9:30am Conway train on its return to North Conway.

This featured former Maine Central GP38 252, a locomotive that isn’t often assigned to the Conway run.

Working with my Lumix LX7, I exposed this view as a RAW digital file, then processed the data using Adbe Lightroom to make the most of the image.

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Tie Train Passes the Station.

Almost every train on Conway Scenic Railroad stops at the North Conway Station.

It is extremely unusual train that passes the station without stopping

Yesterday, while serving in the capacity as ‘Manager on Duty,’ I cleared Work Extra 252 into North Conway from Conway, and granted it permission to drop its caboose at the North Yard before continuing West.

I made this selection of photos as vintage GP38 252 worked passed the 1874 station.

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Ballast Extra at Echo Acres.

On Conway Scenic Railroad, the first public grade crossing east of North Conway is Echo Acres.

Since the whole railroad is arranged on the timetable, trains are either moving east or west regardless of the compass.

I knew that Extra 573 was on the move west of West Side road, and I figured I could beat it to the crossing.

It was hot and hazy, and I made the most of the scene using using my Nikon Z6 with 80-200mm lens, while snapping a slide with my Nikon F3 with 50mm lens.

All the photos below were made digitally with my Nikon Z6.

Z6 with 80-200mm lens set at 200mm f9 1/320 sec.
Z6 with 80-200mm lens set at 200mm f9 1/250 sec.

Z6 with 80-200mm lens set at 200mm f9 1/320 sec.

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Morning Light at Conway, NH.

Among the challenges of summer photography on a tourist railroad is that train operations tend to be focused during the middle of the day when the light is comparatively harsh.

Generally speaking, the passengers appear to be more focused on eating breakfast during the early morning, so we schedule the trains for later in the morning. The first train boards at 9:15 am.

The other day, we sent out a work Extra more than an hour ahead of the scheduled Conway train in order for the work crew to get ballast and ties loaded onto the train at Conway before the first passenger train arrived. This made good use of time, and provided me with some photographic opportunities.

I made these photos of the Work Extra at Conway before 9am using my Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm lens.

Occasionally I’m asked about the schedules for the work trains. Unfortunately my answers aren’t very helpful. By definition, a ‘Work Extra’ doesn’t have a schedule. These trains typically have to stay out of the way of the regular passenger excursions. They are called ‘as-required’, and move about the railroad as it suits the crews to get their work done. Plans change quickly and so it can be difficult to know when and where the trains will be more than a few hours or minutes in advance.

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GP7 on the Work Extra

The other morning was bright and clear in North Conway, NH.

Locomotive 573 (a former Maine Central GP7) was put to work on Conway Scenic Railroad’s work train.

The work train ran from North Conway to Conway to load ballast and ties.

I made this photo at the Golf Course crossing in North Conway using my Nikon Z6 digital camera with 24-70mm zoom lens.

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