History of The Hobo & Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroads
Updated through December 2018 by George Kenson, Webmaster/Engineer
The line from Plymouth to Lincoln was constructed as the Pemigewasset Valley Railroad which was chartered July 9, 1874. Construction began in 1882, with the line opened to Woodstock March 1, 1883. It was leased to the BC&M a month later.
In 1884 the Boston and Lowell RR leased the BC&M, which was later combined with the Concord RR in 1889 to form the Concord and Montreal RR. The BC&M was leased to the Boston and Maine RR in 1895, being subsequently purchased by and merged into the B&M on December 1, 1919.
In the early part of the twentieth century, the line hosted many passenger trains as well as local freights serving the on line towns and continuing to northern New Hampshire, Vermont and Canada, however the favored route for through> traffic was the former Northern RR between Concord and White River Jct, Vt. The trackage between Plymouth and North Haverhill, N.H. was abandoned on October l, 1954. Passenger service was cut back from Plymouth to Laconia (Meredith in the summer) and eventually ceased altogether on January 5, 1965.
In June 1970, the Franconia Paper Co. mill at Lincoln shut down for the first of several times due to pollution control problems. The B&M continued service as required, but heavy rains in the summer of 1973 caused several washouts north of Meredith which the B&M could not justify repairing, thus the northern portion of the line was embargoed.
In 1975, the Profile Paper Co. announced intentions to re-open the mill at Lincoln provided that rail service was available. The State of New Hampshire purchased the Concord to Lincoln trackage on October 30, 1975, repaired it, and resumed service with the Wolfeboro Railroad serving as the first of several operators. The Lincoln paper mill closed for good in 1977, with much of the mill site becoming condominiums and outlet stores in the years since then. Freight service, as required, is provided by the Concord based New England Southern Railroad, and passenger excursions are operated by the Clark family of Lincoln as the Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad between Meredith and Laconia and the Hobo Railroad in the Lincoln - Woodstock area.
In 1986 the Plymouth and Lincoln Railroad was formed with the purpose of operating a theme park and railroad out of Lincoln NH. Edward Clark and his wife Brenda Clark were the owners. Trains have been operating since then between Lincoln and Woodstock a distance of 7 miles. The former Wolfboro Railroad S-1 Alco 1186 was utilized with State of NH owned 1008 following soon. The third Alco was added after the demise of the North Strattford Railroad of northern NH. This engine was Maine Central 959 which was owned by the State of NH and. It was quickly repainted and brought the number of Alco's to three.
After a few years of operating the railroad in Lincoln, The Hobo Railroad was invited to bid on the lease for the state owned trackage from Tilton to Plymouth which would give the two railroads a 54 mile main line. They won the bid and The Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad was formed. They operated between Meredith Station and Lakeport siding at the end of Paugus Bay [ Lake Winnipesaukee ]. Intermediate stops were made at Weirs Beach.
In the summer of 1998 Mr Edward Clark, the founder passed away. Benjamin, his only son assumed the post of President and promoted the business heavily. In late 1998 Ex Rock Island, Ex New England Southern GP7 #302 was purchased and brought to the Lincoln shops where the crafty mechanics brought it back to life. Cosmetic changes such as a chopped nose, ditch lights and a "spiffy" maroon and silver paint job was applied.
From the mid 90's the Lincoln Shops has grown to be a major source of off season revenue by its quality refurbishing and repair of numerous customer railroad equipment. Two Russell Snow Plows, and some subway tampers were rebuilt for the MBTA. The privately owned ex New Haven Trainset "Roger Williams", was in for major restoration to like new condition along with 4-5 caboose repaintings. Their reputation for perfection made them into a facility much in demand which made it a 12 month railroad. Plans are underway for the Flying Yankee restoration to move to the Lincoln NH Shops for completion. In 2000 the "Boise Budd Rebuild Prototype" was purchased from two employees, George Kenson and Leo Boisenault, who had saved it from the scrapers torch 4 years earlier. The MBTA was cleaning house for their new Engine Terminal by scrapping all the ex B&M Budd Cars in storage. Budd 6148 is unique in that it had no motors or radiators, making it a true coach made from an RDC. Hobo Railroad has replaced the windows with sliding type, equipped it with tables and chairs for a touring/dining car for their expanding business. Also in 2000, a gradall and tamper were added to the maintenance fleet. The gradall got immediate use in performing drainage work to eliminate flooding problems and its brush cutting ability is superior.
Alco S1 ex MEC958 came on the property in 2001 by lease from the former operators of the defunct Maine Coast Railroad. This was the second Maine Central S1 joining #959 which came to the railroad after the North Stratford Railroad shut down due to loss of its largest customer, Ethan Allen Furniture. It was at first mostly a Lincoln NH native but ventured south during 2002 on special occasions. It functioned well during Christmas season to help in this annual ritual. An ex Maine Central S1, 958 had some modifications that were necessary due to its work in Maine. The locomotive came with Ditch Lights, a 26L Brake System and FRA glazing. The lease eventually turned into a purchase and in the winter of 2004/2005 it was repainted in the traditional Hobo/Winnipesaukee Railroad design. Now the roster had 4 Alco S1's, an EMD GP7 and a GE 44 Ton locomotive .Over the years since 1998 the railroad has acquired a tie inserter, ballast regulator and a Hy-rail boom truck for handling ties and rails etc. In 2003 the railroad utilized the trackage North of the Meredith Station due to the rapid success of their Fall Foliage Excursions. More trains were scheduled to handle the increase in demand. Also in 2005 for the first time First Class and Presidents Class Pullman Car tickets were sold which were immediately sold out. The restored Plymouth Station, now a "Senior Center" benefited by leasing their dining hall on weekends for a Hot Buffet served to the Foliage Train passengers. During 2004 the Northfield Freight House, home to many cabooses, expanded their sidings to acommodate many more cabooses and private cars.
In the Spring of 2005 a major move was made by the Flying Yankee Restoration Group. This trainset delivered in 1935 to the Boston and Maine Railroad, was at the Claremont and Concord RR and they decided to move it to the yard of the Hobo Railroad in Lincoln, NH for the second phase of restoration. It was one of the first streamliners with all stainless steel construction, a Winton diesel engine, plush comfortable seats and air conditioning. It consists of three cars permanently mated with a capacity of about 130 passengers and it plied routes such as Boston to Montreal, Boston to Portland etc. Also in 2005 the Caboose Trains were typically 20 cabooses and two private Pullman cars even with several cabooses under restoration. As most costs of the trip were fixed, additional customers made the trains profitable and assured their future continuation. Fuel costs and track inspections had made the event more costly .
2005 Foliage Season was a turning point for Bus Groups and their attraction to the Winnipesaukee Scenic RR and the Harts Turkey Farm Roast Turkey Dinner served along the lakeside route. Due to its quick access from Boston area, making day trips possible, and the popularity of the Harts Turkey Farm Dinner combined with the scenic Foliage along the Lake made a popular destination. Also in 2005 Everett Howland, a member of the board of directors since 1987 and former Superintendent of Passenger Operations for the Boston and Maine Railroad passed away. Everett was also one of the very active members of the Flying Yankee Restoration Group and was instrumental in having the second phase of restoration performed at Lincoln, NH at the shops of the Hobo Railroad. In the Winter of 2005, The "Believe in Books Literacy Foundation" contracted with the railroad to provide a "Polar Express" out of Lincoln to supplement the growing demand from the North Conway operation run by the Conway Scenic Railroad. The Tom Hanks movie of the same name was released in the 2004/2005 season sparking even further interest. Since thousands of potential passengers were being turned away due to extreme demand, adding the Hobo Railroad location basically doubled plus more the capacity for the New England customers. Right off Rt 93 and within two hours of Boston it provided the tourist industry in the Lincoln a boost during a normally slow time. An additional coach #9151 Former MBTA RDC-1 was added during 2005 to eliminate car shortages during Motorcycle Week and Fall Foliage Season.
In the winter of 2005/2006 the railroad repainted the two Pullman Cars that they had acquired from the Bangor and Aroostook Railroad and established a web site for their charters at www.pullmanrailtours.com. Alco 959 was also repainted during the Winter Season to complement its sister # 958, painted the previous year. 2006 is the Railroads 19th Year and the 18th year for the annual Trackcar Weekend event held each June. In May of 2006 the Mass Bay RR Enthusiasts returned for a complete tour starting in Lincoln and ending in Concord, NH, a distance of 74 miles. Mother Nature was not cooperative and the trip made it only as far as Canterbury, NH about 9 miles short of its goal due to a washout. In the fall they returned to complete the trip all the way to Concord. The Wye in Lincoln was rebuilt along with a grade crossing project at Rt 112, also known as the Kancamagus Highway. New traffic lights were installed at Exit 32 near the railroad and conduits were also installed for future grade crossing automatic signal protection at RT 112.
The bridge in Plymouth that carries RT 175 over the Pemigewassett River was replaced in 2007 with a new bridge slightly north of the old bridge. The grade crossing over Rt 175 is only several hundred feet from the approach to the bridge necessitating a realignment of the roadbed to allow for a rise of 18 inches for the new highway. The bridge contractor removed the entire track from the restored semaphore north of town, all the way to the north switch at Plymouth Station. This was approximately 1/2 mile of track being realigned for this project. Grade crossing protection was also installed as part of the contract.
In July of 2008 the railroad hosted the "Little Engine That Could" event from its Lincoln, NH station. In August of 2008 a major localized storm did considerable damage to the portion of the line between Ashland and Laconia. Over 75 washouts occurred with the biggest being a 100 foot section of track and also included part of the famed Weirs Beach Boardwalk which was swept away. By Mid-September with FEMA, State and local cooperation, the line was restored back to normal allowing the September through October Fall Foliage Trains to operate as normal. At the same time the Ashland Hill section of the washouts had added to it thousands of ties, tons of ballast and tamping. Clearly a 100 year flood event that dropped 4 inches of rain in an hour which overwhelmed all the drainage systems. Also in late 2008 the Plymouth and Lincoln Railroad acquired at auction the main Laconia Station waiting room and ticket office. Other parts of the station such as two restaurants are owned by others.
During 2009 the original locomotive, # 1186 had an engine transplant from a previously stored prime mover that was purchased from the Maine Central Railroad when it was liquidating its stock of Alco switchers. A full online ticketing and reservations system was installed and proved to be an instant success with our passengers as they could book tickets in advance assuring a seat on their desired train. In September of 2009 Edward M Clark passed away. Ed Clark's interest in steam locomotives led to the founding of the White Mountain Central Railroad, which is a part of Clark's Trading Post, in 1986. Ed Clark's son, the late Edward A Clark was the founder of the Hobo and Winnipesaukee Railroads that exist today within earshot of the WMCRR and is run by Brenda Clark, Edward A Clark's widow along with her two children Benjamin and Jennifer. A short section of recreational trail was opened between Elm St in Lakeport to the Laconia Station. It was constructed 10 feet wide and located beside the active track but separated by a 4 foot fence. NH's Alco S1 1008 suffered a traction motor failure during the Fall Foliage Season. Due to increased publicity, the addition of Polar Express Trains in the evening and the online reservation system, Santa Trains are becoming a bigger part of the railroad's annual business.
In the Spring of 2010, 4000 feet of 85 lb rail was changed out in the Lincoln to Woodstock section replacing most of the original lighter rail. Also the Weirs Beach Boardwalk along with the railroad trackage was completely restored from its damage by the storm of August 2008. Summer 2010 saw over 6000 ties installed in the Tilton-Laconia area and replacement of the two Tilton grade crossings over Route 3. A recreational trail was created beside the active ROW from Rt 140 to Tilton downtown to connect with the trail on the abandoned Franklin to Tilton rail line. There were no caboose trains run in the year to allow for maintenance of the line and inspection of equipment. Hope is that 2011 will prove to be different.
The railroad's popular foliage trains saw national coverage by CNN and The New York Times spiking the web site. The next year NBC news joined the list of expanding national media recognizing that Foliage Trains are a popular way to view foliage with the advantage to travel through undeveloped areas not normally viewable by road.
2012 saw the ballasting and computer tamping and aligning on miles of track in Woodstock correcting damage from the August 2011 Hurricane Irene which put portions of the Lincoln Line out service for several weeks only allowing about a 2 1/2 miles of track for train service. Also in 2012 the third of four former Erie Lackawanna coaches was subject to a complete interior and exterior refurbishment. Stainless steel coach 9153 arrived for service in a new interior decor. 9151 also was complimented by new interior similar to 9153's. No caboose trains were run in 2010, 2011 and 2012 with several privately owned cabooses leaving the group at the Northfield Freight House acknowledging that that they would not resume in the near future. During those years part of the slack was taken up by New England Southern RR that continued Northfield to Concord round trips but had to stop in 2012 due to insurance costs. In December of 2012 one of the pioneers of the caboose train movement left for a railroad in Corning NY to utilize his equipment there.
Previously stored North Stratford Railroad box car #491 was brought to the main yard, sold and then repainted into its former exterior when it resided at the North Stratford Railroad. A pristine work shop was the secret inside its closed doors for its new owner. Pullman Car #100 formerly from the Bangor and Aroostook Railroad departed for an Amtrak upgrade by a new owner. It went first to Morristown and Erie Railroad's shops for a complete Amtrak compatible conversion emerging in late 2012. It was picked up by railroad magazines as having travelled as far as California where it must have travelled behind Amtrak's long distance trains. Once again Foliage and Santa Trains were up in attendance even though no all day Foliage trains were scheduled this year. 2012 was the railroad's anniversary and all summer promotions were run to celebrate the event.
2013 was the start of more aggressive marketing with the hiring of Paul Giblin, formerly of the Flying Yankee Restoration Group. He took over the publication of the periodic email newsletter from Webmaster, George Kenson who turned over 2500 email addresses he had accumulated over 8 years from a sign up box on the website. Paul's efforts contributed to an increase in volume and publicity especially during the Christmas Season at years end. The railroad got featured in the Weirs times, Union Leader and more just adding to the numerous profiles in publications regarding the railroad. WMUR TV's Chronicle Show spent quite a while filming at the Hobo Railroad in Lincoln. Engineer, Gary L Kerr unfortunately passed away and with the departure of another engineer to live in Florida caused a little shortage at The Winnipesaukee Railroad during the busy Fall period. Some doubling up of hours brought us through it with some replacements hired late in the year.
The quantity of cabooses at Tilton was reduced by 5 cabooses. One Pullman car left the area with Gary Gurskey's "Cold Harbor" remaining which is also used as First Class Car on the railroads Foliage Trains. Several were sold and at least two ended up as cottages on wheels in owners back yards. Everyone involved looked back at the demise in 2012 of the Caboose Trains and acknowledged that it was great while it lasted and appreciated the approximately 15 year period of enjoyment.
2014 saw the introduction of a new Station Manager for Meredith with David Labar replacing Yvette Bujeaud a long term employee since the startup of the Winnipesaukee Scenic RR in 1992. The Winnipesaukee Scenic RR made an agreement with the MV MT Washington for a joint ticket for the "Rail and Sail" program. Passengers depart at 10:30am for a ride to Lakeport and return, with a transfer of those with combined tickets to the MV MT Washington at the Weirs Beach Station at Noon. Inauguration of this agreed joint ticketing went very well since the beginning of August. Plans are to continue the agreement in the spring of 2015 due to favorable passenger counts. An EMD SW1000, formerly used by the BNSF railroad was acquired. This latest locomotive, #1012 was acquired in Summer of 2014 and arrived on September 21, 2014 to serve as the replacement for Alco S1 #1008 which was the second locomotive acquired by the railroad. Privately owned Former New Haven Railroad RDC-1 departed in September from our Lincoln location destined for the Naugatuck RR in Thomaston CT. The railroad there operates tourist train runs between Waterville and Thomaston CT.
In 2016 an EMD 1001 was purchased, #1590 a former leased unit that originally came from Conrail. A rare visit by the Mass Bay RR Enthusiasts took several cars down to Lakeport Engine House and then to Plymouth Station
Lakeport Engine House Group was present with open doors>
Also the B&MRRHS joined with the railroad to schedule their fall meeting in the Plymouth Station to coincide with a fall day that the railroad also operated one of their Fall Foliage Specials. The Specials use the station run around track to get ready for the return to Meredith but there is a dwell time enough for B&M members to tour the train and record in digital mode what interested them.
Thanks to Jim Nigsuz of the B&M group and engineer and webmaster George Kenson for making this happen. 2018 was the year of the Laconia Bike Trail threat, also known as the WOW trail representing the Winnipesaukee, Winnisquam and Waukewan lakes it may or may not connect to. Laconia City Councel authorized a sizeable sum of money to obtain a financial type impact report attempting to replace the railroad between Lochmere and Weirs Beach with Meredith also in the sights. The number one industry in NH is tourism and the railroad, Weirs Beach, MV Mt Washington and Meredith are all owned separately but connected jointly, to keep the Laconia and western side of the famous lake an attraction.This would have isolated nearly 40 miles of track from the our nation's rail network of state owned track. In 2019 the B&MRRHS will meet with the railroad again in the Fall along with the Mass Bay Group visiting again May 11th. The following is a brief description of the route of the trackage operated by the Hobo Railroad and the Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad between Northfield New Hampshire and Lincoln New Hampshire, a distance of 54 miles. Information has been updated through December 2017 by Webmaster/Engineer George Kenson.
The railroad line between Northfield and Plymouth it still shows signs of its one time main line status with remnants of block signals along the track, ballast deck bridges, and highway overpasses. North of Plymouth the track construction is that of a branch line that served the logging interests and paper companies in the area.
NOTE: Mileage from Northfield to Plymouth is measured from the former Concord Passenger Station:
18.0 NORTHFIELD Assorted railroad equipment has found its way to the Northfield Freight House site for storage and display. Numerous private cabooses populate the tracks next to the historic freight house which is privately owned. In 2005 there were about 24 private cabooses and three private Pullman Cars, a box car, a flanger and a snow plow. Most of the equipment travels as a "caboose train" operated by the Hobo Railroad to destinations such as Lincoln or Plymouth where they stay for the weekend and then return. The Franklin and Tilton branch leaves the main line here. At one time this branch connected with the Northern Railroad main line between Concord and White River Jct. at a point known as Franklin Jct. south of Franklin. The 1936 floods damaged the covered bridge across the Merrimack River ending this connection. Also on the F&T, near Northfield, is an "upside down" covered bridge, with the track located on the top of the timber trusses which are enclosed for protection. The F&T was purchased by the state in 1975 with the Concord - Lincoln line, but has been unused since about the time of purchase.
18.38 TILTON We cross the Winnipesaukee River for the first of three times in a mile on a new bridge built in 1991 replacing a timber trestle. Tilton station site is now occupied by a parking lot after we cross Route 3, Main Street. We follow Route 3 and the Winnipesaukee River eastward, crossing under I-93 shortly before we cross Route 140 at McDonald's Restaurant. In the past the railroad has operated their annual event of "Santa Trains" from a platform in the parking lot of the restaurant. New grade crossing equipt. was installed in Dec 1999. Across Route 3 from the new BJ's store is the new Lake Region Factory Stores Mall which opened in 1997. About a mile from route 140, just as you cross a grade crossing, was the Belmont Branch which ran for 4 miles south to its namesake terminus in Belmont. The branch was abandoned in 1929. The siding branching of to the right before the paved road is an industrial track that still sees special trains and occasional service. The train on the left in the Tilton Station picture shows the local Belmont Train awaiting its passengers in downtown Tilton.
21.86 LOCHMERE We leave the Town of Tilton and enter the Town of Belmont. The station was located near the road crossing at the north end of the passing track. A dam and power station owned by the Public Service Co. of New Hampshire is nearby on our right. From here all the water from Winnipesaukee & Winnisquam flow to Silver Lake and then becomes the Merrimack River, which flows through Concord, Manchester, Nashua, Lowell, Lawrence, Haverhill before reaching the Atlantic Ocean at Newburyport in the neighboring state of Massachusetts.
24.69 WINNISQUAM The station is on the left before the grade crossing. It is a private residence. At one time, Route 3 crossed the railroad on an overhead bridge, but this was replaced with the present grade crossing in the mid 1970's. New crossing protection lights were installed here in Dec 1999. We remain in sight of Winnisquam Lake as we travel on to Laconia. The cement wall to the side of the track encloses the sewer line which follows the railroad from Meredith to Tilton.
27.59 LACONIA On our right, before we reach the former passenger station are the remains of the Laconia Car Company which built considerable passenger & freight cars for the B&M, Maine Central and the other northeastern roads 100 years ago. The Laconia Station has served the city in past years as a police station and bus and taxi station. Currently the station is home to several smaller shops and eateries. Passenger train service from Boston up to Laconia lasted until January 5, 1965. A freight agent existed to serve here until 1968 when he moved to Lakeport, continuing to serve until the state assumed ownership of the 'trackage in 1975. Grade crossing signals were re-installed at Upper & Lower Messer Street crossings in 2000. Grade crossing signals were installed at Pleasant Street, the street just south of the station in 2008. Also in late 2008 the Plymouth and Lincoln Railroad acquired at auction the main station waiting room and ticket office. Other parts of the station such as two restaurants are owned by others. In 2009 a bike trail was constructed from the Laconia Station north bound to Elm Street in Lakeport. The bike path was constructed beside the main right of way owned by the State Of NH.
29.04 LAKEP0RT The freight house is still standing here, on our left behind the fire station. In 2003 restoration was started on the structure by a historical group who acquired the building. Recently a short sidig existed for the structure but has been removed. There remains an unconnected unused track which meandered for about a mile thru the Irwin Marine boat yard on the right, continued across Route 3, through McDonald's parking lot to an industrial are in recent years. This is the remnant of the Lake Shore Route which ran from Dover to Lakeport until 1935 when trackage between Alton Bay and Gilford was abandoned. Grade crossing signals were installed here in 2003 coordinated with the traffic signals for the nearby intersection. We again cross the Winnipesaukee River, on a bridge modified as a draw bridge in 1990 for the use of the many pleasure boaters in the area. Train crews stop and operate the draw bridge except during winter when the bridge is locked in the down position. A state owned engine house was constructed in the 1970 s for use of the operators of this trackage. Behind it can be seen the only remaining stall of the former original brick engine house. Paugus Bay is on our right for several miles. Trains from the Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad stop here, where the long siding is, to exchange ends with the engine so they can continue their trip back to Weirs Beach and Meredith. 6000 ties were installed from this point to Meredith in 1997 with the completion with ballast and laser alignment done in 2001. The Elm St grade crossing, just before the freight house, was relocated and new crossing protection added in 2003.
33.77 WEIRS BEACH A summer colony for well over a century. The Boston & Maine Railroad shared the station with the MV Mt. Washington II. Currently tickets for the current trains are sold in a small booth on the boardwalk. At on time the B&M Railroad owned the steamship operating here. This newer diesel powered ship cruises the lake during the summer months on two and one half hour cruises. Smaller boats, the Doris E. and the Sophie C. offer shorter voyages. The station and board-walk was rebuilt in 1986-87. During the summer of 2008 massive washouts occured in the area which removed about 200 feet of boardwalk and track. In December of 2010 the City of Laconia with some FEMA funds removed the rest of the boardwalk south of the present day station for the MV MT Washington and replaced it with a boardwalk with a more sturdy foundation. After, We proceed northward along the shore of Lake Winnipesaukee's Meredith Bay, passing occasional clusters of cottages before passing under Route 3 and arriving at Meredith. This is the main stop for the Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad and where thousands of tourists board everyday in season for a one or two hour all water view train ride. For more on the history of Weirs Beach go here!
37.70 MEREDITH The freight house, a baggage car, some cabooses occupy the yard area. This is the base of operations for the Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad and the most northern of its two stations. Here trains turn for the return trip to Weirs Beach and then Lakeport. The former passenger station was relocated to the hill above the tracks at the Route 3 overpass years ago, and served as a restaurant. It burned several years ago and has not been replaced. The former passenger station site is marked by a curbing and a paved platform on our right on the north side of Main St. Lake Waukewan is on our right as you leave town. Year-round passenger service to Meredith ended on Oct 25, 1959. Summer service from mid-June until mid-September continued until 1965.
41.06 WINONA Former station site in the Town of New Hampton, north of Winona Road which we cross on an overhead bridge. Winona Lake on right. Top of grade at 675 ft. above sea level at mileage C43.76 as a dirt road crosses overhead on a wooden bridge. We climb a 1.42% grade from mileage C42 to the summit. After passing the summit we descend a 1.13% grade for almost 3 miles.
45.78 ASHLAND The former passenger station is on our right before we cross Depot Street, Route 132. In 1999, this station was rededicated by then Transportation Secretary Elizabeth Dole, after having extensive renovations performed under a federal grant and under the guidance of the Ashland Historical Society. Numerous Fall excursions and special dinner trains of the Winnipesauke Scenic Railroad now stop here to pick up passengers. Across Depot Street crossing, on our right, is the old former freight house owned by a local artist. We cross the Squam River on the high bridge. A former spur track ran down grade to the ruins of the Ashland Paper Co. and proceeded around the pond to a business across the street. A freight agent was stationed at Ashland until the early 1970's. We pass under the twin bridges of Rt I-93 on a new roadbed as the railroad and Route 3 were relocated when the Rt I-93 interchange was constructed in the 1960's.
47.85 BRIDGEWATER We cross the Pemigewasset River on a three span through truss bridge. This is not the original bridge which was built of wood. It was destroyed by a derailment on the bridge which left the remains of a flatcar in the water on the West side of the truss. It is on its back, minus trucks, but can still be seen under proper light conditions. The station site was located on the left after we pass under US Route 3 at the end of River Road. Just to the right before the bridge, the smell of cedar wood was from the large stack on hand of Cedar by the firm that makes "Shoe Trees" at the Rochester Shoe Tree Co. After passing over the bridge shortly a wood chip electric generating station exists . Just beyond this is the Bonnie Brae Deer Farm followed by the Glove Hollow Christmas Tree Farm.
51.26 PLYMOUTH The track lies between the Pemigewasset River and Route 3 for several miles. Plymouth State College is located in this town of 5000. We pass the freight house on our left before arriving at the former passenger station, now a senior citizens center. ` A small yard is located here. Plymouth NH. was once the junction of the Pemigewasset Valley Branch to Lincoln and the former main line to Woodsville. The main line was abandoned on October 31,1954, with subsequent highway and flood control construction obliterating much of the roadbed toward Woodsville along the Baker River. A municipal parking lot and court house now occupies some of the former yard area. Passenger service on the Pemigewasset Valley Branch was discontinued September 21, 1938. Actually service was to be discontinued about a week later, but was hastened by the "Hurricane of 1938", which rendered the tracks impassable. B&M busses replaced the train until1952. Plymouth freight agency closed about 1965, Lincoln in the 1970's.
As we leave the station area we cross Bridge St., the local access to I-93. The former main line to Woodsville went to the left shortly before the semaphore. Mileages are now measured from Plymouth Station. We then cross the Baker River on a through truss bridge adjacent to the Route 3 bridge. This is the first bridge on the White Mountain Branch. On our right is the newly built The Common Man Resort. All 4 hour Fall Foliage Trains stop here for the passenger's Noon lunch inside the restaurant. This is the location of the former Plymouth Mfg. Co. and numerous buildings were rebuilt to create the new establishment. We climb a steep and winding 1.12% grade from MP 1 to MP 2. Several sharp curves limit the speed in this area until well past the former Mill at Livermore Falls.
2.25 LIVERMORE FALLS In the town of Campton. A paper mill was located here until the 1950's. The remnants of a crumbling former steel truss from a highway overpass is visible to the south. The trains of the Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad used to stop here for a few moments before returning to Meredith during the Fall Foliage Trains. The land has been secured by the State of NH with posible plans to make it an attraction for everyone. At present students from Plymouth State College have discovered this out of the way water attraction and are usually present during warm weather.
4.24 BLAIR We cross the Pemigewasset at mile 3.07 on a two span bridge built in 1928, replacing an earlier structure damaged by the floods of 1927. Damage from the 1927 floods also resulted in passenger train interruption for a whole year. We pass through Blair State Forest, coming to the station site at Blair Road. A piece of granite foundation mark the site. Towards the left can be seen the Blair Covered Bridge, built in 1869 and consists of two spans totalling 292 feet across the Pemigewasset River. This bridge is one of the largest spans of its kind in the State.
5.82 BEEBE RIVER We follow the Beebe River, a tributary of the Pemigewaset for a short distance before arriving at the community of Beebe River, a former company town for the sawmill complex located here. A long unused spur track to the mill continued on to a 15 mile logging railroad up the valley of the Beebe River which operated between 1917 and 1933 using a pair of Shays and a Climax geared locomotive. Smaller engines were used to switch the mill into the 1960's. The Climax now runs on the White Mountain Central Railroad in North Woodstock.
7.37 CAMPTON Development of near-by Waterville Valley has awakened the once sleepy town of Campton. We pass under I-93 and pass the Campton station site, marked by an unused, and recently removed, siding. At one time a spur track ran up the Mad River Valley to Campton Village, but was apparently discontinued in the 1930's. We pass under I-93 again and enter the Town of Thornton.
8.93 LYFORD'S (not shown) We pass over the Pemigewasset again and come to the the Silsby Lumber Company mill from 1916 to the 1920's. Construction of I-93 has obliterated most of this site. Several new grade crossings exist here for land development on the east side of the tracks.
10.56 THORNTON the site of this flag station is just as we turn away from Route 3.
13.50 WEST THORNTON This station was located at a dirt road crossing. A logging railroad ran northwest about a mile to the site of Veazey's Mill on Mirror Lake. We enter the Town of Woodstock as we pass the golf course of the Jack-O-Lantern resort. The golf course is the turning point for the Hobo Railroad which starts seven miles away in Lincoln. 4000 ties were replaced here to Lincoln in 1997.
16.60 WOODSTOCK I-93 again crosses overhead. The Station was located between the two crossings and is no longer there. There is a restaurant called Woodstock Station but see the story with Lincoln Station for an explanation. We remain on the west shore of the river with Route 3 as the Interstate crosses to the East Bank.
18.31 MOUNTAIN PARK (not shown)We cross the Pemigewasset about a mile and a half beyond Woodstock Village. A flag station was located here to serve the Mountain Park Hotel. The Woodstock and Thornton Gore Railroad, owned by the Woodstock Lumber Company operated from here to Tripoli Mill in the Town of Livermore between 1909 and 1916. As we pass under some Power Lines the maintenance of way area for the railroad is evident with the supply of rails and new ties stockpiled here. In the Fall of 2005, construction began for the white dome structures for the "Polar Express Trains" that the Hobo Railroad began running for The Believe in Literacy Foundation. In 2005 the Hobo Railroad ran 24 full trains of passengers to enjoy this now famous "Polar Epress" made more popular by the release of a movie starring Tom Hanks.
19.37 FAIRVIEW A flag station was located at the location where we cross Route 175. It served the Fairview Hotel. Even still today several concrete stanchions can bee seen that supported the platform with an ornemental roof for protection for passengers while they awasited the train.
20.61 NORTH WOODSTOCK We cross the Pemigewasset for bridge. The station site is the final time on a two span marked by a curved remnant of concrete platform alongside Route 112 directly opposite the ramp to I-93. Presently the new siding there is the new home of The Cafe Lafayette Dinner Train. We traverse the west leg of the B&M Wye track to arrive at the HOBO Station. This was not the end of the track for in the logging days an extension for several miles went up into the Franconia Notch area to connect with several logging operations. The White Mountain Central RR operates on a short part of the extension to the Johnson Lumber Company of the past.
LINCOLN This station marked the end of the line for the White Mountain Branch. This station was moved about a mile away to a location on Route 3 in downtown North Woodstock. It was renamed Woodstock Station. It is now part of the Woodstock Station Restaurant. The B&M main line continued on to the Lincoln Paper Mill, but this trackage has either been removed or is disappearing to the ravages of time. The Mill ceased operating in 1948. After that time the East Branch and Lincoln continued to switch the mill using a GE 45 Tonner until 1963. J E Henry's logging operation started here in the 1900's and followed where the now Kancamangus Highway is for a short distance until crossing over the Franconia Brook and into an area that is now a hiking only White Mountain National Forest. At least two dozen camps were created with switchbacks and trackage going extensively into the mountains to harvest the lumber. Hundreds were employed and the logging operation was responsible for the creation of the town of Lincoln, NH. For further information and the description of the logging operations that created the Lincoln village, I recommend the book J E Henry's Logging Railroads published by Bondcliff Books, Littleton, NH .
Above copyright 2017 G. Kenson
Want to locate more old stations? Click Here to go to a web site that has a comprehensive photo library of New Hampshire's past and present stations. Some of the photographs were used with permission for this web page. I also contributed some photographs to their web site in order to help complete the endless job of identifying and location history on these station.
RAILROAD STATIONS OF NEW HAMPSHIRE