New Hampshire

Conway Scenic Railroad | White Mountains Fun

Tucked into the White Mountains, the Conway Scenic Railroad offers a delightful old-fashioned railroading experience.

By Aimee Tucker

Apr 14 2022

north-conway-scenic-railroad

North Conway Scenic Railroad

Photo Credit : Aimee Seavey
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A few years ago I enjoyed a White Mountains weekend with my family, and our visit included a ride at one of the area’s most recognizable spots — the Conway Scenic Railroad. Located smack in the middle of the White Mountains tourist town of North Conway, in North Conway Village, the station sits like something plucked from a children’s book. Even on an overcast late May day, it stood out in vibrant color.
North Conway Scenic Railroad
The 1874 Russian-Victorian Conway Scenic Railroad in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.
Photo Credit : Aimee Seavey
The depot, built in 1874, was designed by Nathaniel J. Bradlee in an eclectic “Russian Victorian” style. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979, just five years after the railroad switched over to a fully-tourist operation. They offer a variety of main railroading adventures, mostly diesel electric-powered. Two family-friendly “Valley” routes head north to either Conway (11 miles) or Bartlett (21 miles), while another, longer “Notch” route heads to the mountains and Crawford Notch. The latter is the for those wanting the “real deal” mountain train experience, and it’s magnificent in the fall, when the autumn colors are blazing. Throughout the year, special events like the ultra-popular “Journey to the North Pole” during the holiday season bring in even more crowds.
North Conway Scenic Railroad
Welcome to the Conway Scenic Railroad!
Photo Credit : Aimee Seavey
Directly behind the depot, the tracks (and adventure, perhaps?) await.
North Conway Scenic Railroad
The rear, track-side view of the Conway Scenic Railroad.
Photo Credit : Aimee Seavey
I made my way through the door marked “Ticket Office” and into the lobby…
North Conway Scenic Railroad
Heading into the Scenic Railroad ticket window.
Photo Credit : Aimee Seavey
…where I was met with the quintessential 19th century train depot. Inside, the lobby is comfortably cluttered with train ephemera, objects from railroading days gone by, and (yes) a ticket window. My thanks to friendly Scenic Railroad staff member Dick for helping me get my ticket sorted! And to the Brass Whistle Gift Shop for helping me pick up copies of “The Little Engine that Could” for my niece and nephews.
North Conway Scenic Railroad
The ticket window inside the Conway Scenic Railroad depot.
Photo Credit : Aimee Seavey
North Conway Scenic Railroad
Scenes from inside the  Conway Scenic Railroad depot.
Photo Credit : Aimee Seavey
North Conway Scenic Railroad
Afternoon sunlight streams across wooden floors.
Photo Credit : Aimee Seavey
North Conway Scenic Railroad
Early advertisements promoting fall foliage train excursions.
Photo Credit : Aimee Seavey
With time to spare before our ride, I wandered over to the adjacent train yard to check out some of the colorful (retired?) cars at rest.
North Conway Scenic Railroad
Train cars at the Conway Scenic Railroad.
Photo Credit : Aimee Seavey
North Conway Scenic Railroad
The Grand Trunk Railway operated in the Canadian provinces of Quebec and Ontario, and in the American states of Connecticut, Maine, Michigan, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont.
Photo Credit : Aimee Seavey
Then it was back to the depot to wait.
North Conway Scenic Railroad
Watch your step!
Photo Credit : Aimee Seavey
North Conway Scenic Railroad
It’s easy to wait for your train when the setting is as charming as this one.
Photo Credit : Aimee Seavey
And a short while later, it was time to climb aboard!
North Conway Scenic Railroad
Helping my two-year-old niece Celia board the train,
Photo Credit : Aimee Seavey
North Conway Scenic Railroad
All aboard! Not surprised to see my sister Courtney got a good seat.
Photo Credit : Aimee Seavey
Mindful of the fact that we had a pair of two-year-olds and a one-year-old in our group, we took the shortest ride — the one hour Valley train south to Conway. It was just long enough for the kids to enjoy themselves without getting restless, and the views were a combination of rural and suburban.
North Conway Scenic Railroad
The Conway Scenic Railroad.
Photo Credit : Aimee Seavey
After passing the golf course of the North Conway Country Club, we passed through some fields (one with cows), alongside a school, and over a bridge that spanned a small river, before pausing for a moment and then repeating the journey back to the station. Despite the short length of the journey, the conductor generated many hearty train whistles, and the kids loved it. It also sounded like there may have been some guided audio narration, but if the speakers were turned on in our car, they weren’t loud enough to make out any of what was being said.
North Conway Scenic Railroad
One of our first views was the green of the North Conway Country Club.
Photo Credit : Aimee Seavey
North Conway Scenic Railroad
Views from the Conway Scenic Railroad.
Photo Credit : Aimee Seavey
“Our goal is to preserve a piece of New Hampshire’s railroading history for all to enjoy for generations to come” they say at the Conway Scenic Railroad. I’d say they’re not only doing that, but guaranteeing a memorable and old-fashioned adventure for all who climb aboard.
North Conway Scenic Railroad
The Conway Scenic Railroad is a great way to enjoy a day in the White Mountains.
Photo Credit : Aimee Seavey
Have you ever ridden the Conway Scenic Railroad? Share your memories in the comments! Conway Scenic Railroad. 38 Norcross Circle, North Conway. 603-356-5251; conwayscenic.com.This post was first published in 2016 and has been updated. 

SEE MORE: Zeb’s General Store in North Conway, NHFranconia Ridge Loop | The Perfect White Mountains Hike The Most Beautiful Places in New Hampshire