Conway Scenic RR GP7 #573 (ex Maine Central) leads a high and wide move through the siding at Crawford Notch, NH on June 20, 2009.
With nothing planned for the weekend, and no desire to hang out with the usual suspects all day (CSX, PAR & NECR) I decided it might be nice to go for a bit of a drive (or a lot of a drive depending on how much driving you consider 460 miles in one day to be) to watch the Conway Scenic Railroad move a rare high and wide load along their line in the shadow of Mt. Washington. So, on Saturday (June 20th as I’ve been a bit neglectful of updates to this site) Tom Murray and I loaded the truck up with scanner, antenna, cameras, lots and lots of batteries, cold drinks, and not a single map of the area we were traversing before grabbing a rather unsatisfying breakfast at Dunkin’ Donuts and charging northwards into the White Mountains.
The train was going to be laying over on the evening of the 19th at Hazens, NH, where the the St. Lawrence & Atlantic was to turn it over to the CSRR. My TomTom didn’t recognize the existence of Hazens, so we programmed it for nearby Whitefield, NH instead. Driving through town, we came across the Ball Signal that still protects the junction there. After determining that we could overtake the H&W movement just about anywhere as long as we drove faster than 10 or so mph, a decision was made to stop and record this historic signal for posterity.
Though we did stop to take a look at Hazens, NH (near the airport apparently) the train had long since started moving, and we had to drive a considerable distance to catch it. Luck was with us though and we managed to find it right as it was pulling into the siding at Crawford Notch, where the Conway Scenic excursions generally turn around. At this point our dreams of being the only people to record this movement were horridly dashed. We rounded a bend and came up over a slight rise to discover everyone with a car and a camera in northern New England parked on the shoulder. We did manage to find a decent spot trackside to pull over, and took some nice shots and shot some nice scowls at the hordes of people continually getting in our way.
The high and wide load was actuallt two loads, both transformers, with the larger being on the Schnabel Car (Emmert International’s BBCX 1000) and the smaller being on this 8 axle depressed center flat of Kasgro Rail Services registry. The smaller transformer was not particularily high or wide (though I’m sure it was quite heavy), but they still had it separated by idler gondolas from the power and the Schnabel. The banner on the side is for Marino Crane Service, which handled the loading and unloading and the final movement via road to the substation where both transformers will be in service.
While we were watching the train go by, this blue and yellow helicopter (Bell Ranger?) was buzzing around rather recklessly (or so it seemed). Not long after it flew off for awhile, but then returned and continued to shadow the train. At first we assumed that the helicopter was affiliated with the move somehow, but later someone told us it was just a local guy taking photo’s (very expensive photo’s I’d assume). Whether that’s true or not I don’t know. But it was definitely paying very close attention to everything that was going on.
Just down the road from out first vantage spot, the road takes a dip and the tracks continue to run along a narrow ledge way up on the side of a ridge. About halfway down the hill we found a decent place to park, then walked back up the road till we were able to see where the tracks crossed a gully on a small bridge, after a brief wait while the load on the Schnabel car was adjusted, the power appeared and veeeeeery slowly crawled over the bridge.
The power and the first, smaller, transformer made it across in pretty good time, but the train slowed even more as the Schnabel car got closer after the first set of trucks were across the bridge it stopped completely for a few minutes before the crew slowly inched it the rest of the way over the bridge. After this, we decided we were hungry and needed to get away from the throngs of people. So we packed up the camera’s and headed towards Conway.
Along the way, we came upon an excursion train in Bartlett being readied for its return trip. The S-4 (backup power due to the FP’s being in use on the High and Wide move) was running around the train and I only managed to squeeze off one shot at extreme zoom. Still it was a nice and somewhat unique catch.
After lunch at a BBQ joint in Conway, we decided it was time to start heading back so as to not arrive too terribly late. After cruising southwest through Lisbon, Bath and Wells River, VT we rejoined I-91 and zipped down to White River Junction, where we caught VTR #307 at the depot. I like these late model GP40-2’s and took quite a few photo’s of it, including some decent detail shots that will come in handy for future modeling projects. Also parked nearby was the Green Mountain Railroad’s excursion train, complete with control cab on car #1317. This is a railroad I would like to take a closer look at someday.
New England Central Railroad #3840 leads a northbound freight past the station at White River Junction, VT.
As we headed back to the car, a horn in the distance drew our attention to the NECR tracks on the other side of the depot. Shortly thereafter a northbound NECR train lead be former Penn Central GP38 #3840 rounded the curve and crawled to a stop at the station, where the conductor climbed down and went into the depot for a few moments while we snapped a few shots of equipment we’re much more used to seeing down in Palmer. After a minute or two, the conductor came back and the train began to move into the yard.
Displaying almost every paint scheme (except NS) that can currently be seen at East Deerfield, MA, a brace of Pan Am Railways power moves onto the service track.
Finally after a long day on the road, we decided it couldn’t hurt to swing by PAR’s East Deerfield yard on the way home. Sure enough, our luck held out and we were able to catch a very eclectic brace of power being shuffled off of a train and back towards the engine house. The light was getting low by this point, but I managed to get one or two that weren’t blurry. By now we were exhausted, so after giving the truck a quick mud-bath on the service road that leads behind the yard, we scurried home to relax for a bit before grabbing a bite at Gohyang in Hadley.