NORTH CONWAY, New Hampshire — The last B&M Snow Train left North Conway Station in 1950, but the steam trains will ride the rails again this December, thanks the return of an event sure to please families, rail fans and skiers alike. The Snow Train Celebration will roll into North Conway on Dec. 19, 2009, a special event by the Conway Scenic Railroad and Cranmore Mountain Resort. The event will be prefaced on Fri. Dec. 18th with Ticket Roll Back Day at Cranmore with $3.30 lift tickets for all ages.
The Snow Train Celebration will offer visitors a chance to ski at historic Cranmore Mountain, one of the earliest developed ski resorts in the U.S., and to ride an authentic steam-powered train on the same tracks that brought Skimeister Hannes Schneider to North Conway over 70 years ago.
Schneider, the renowned Austrian ski instructor who founded Cranmore’s ski school in 1939, was just one of the hundreds of thousands of skiers who flocked to North Conway from points south during the Snow Trains’ run from 1931 through 1950.
At their peak, around 1936, the snow trains carried 24,000 passengers each season. When Mount Cranmore opened for its first season in 1937-38, snow trains helped bring skiers from Boston to fill its slopes.
Cranmore and the Conway Scenic Railroad will offer special pricing for those wanting to both ski and ride the trains on December 19th. Visitors can present their Cranmore lift ticket at the train station for a special discount; and those taking the train can present their receipt at Cranmore for a discount on that day’s lift ticket. The first 50 children to purchase a ticket at Cranmore will receive a free engineer’s hat as a memento of the day.
Customers can ski and ride at Cranmore all day beginning at 8:30am on the 19th. The steam train will be leaving Conway Scenic’s North Conway station at 3pm and customers can board at 2:45pm. Tickets may be purchased in advance earlier in the day. The train will be pulled by a Steam Engine 7470 from North Conway to Conway. Ski Historian Tom Eastman will provide a narrative to train passengers telling the tale of the Snow Trains. Eastman writes the ski column for the local Conway Daily Sun and also wrote the definitive history of Cranmore, Flight Without Wings. Friday, December 18th is Cranmore’s Ticket Roll Back Day. Now returning for its third year, the popular event offers tickets for only $3.30, the price skiers would have paid back when the Snow Trains were first running.
Cranmore Mountain Resort has been welcoming families to its snowy slopes since 1937. Conway Scenic Railroad was founded in May of 1974 after the Boston & Maine Railroad discontinued service and abandoned its tracks to North Conway. Currently, the Conway Scenic Railroad operates two train sets, one called the “Valley Train,” which operates normal service between North Conway, Conway, and Bartlett mid-April through late December, and the “Notch Train,” which operates regularly between North Conway and Crawford Depot during the summer and with excursions to Fabyan Station in Bretton Woods daily in the fall. The return of the Snow Train is for this special event only.