This is once again off topic but i have recieved my e-mail from Paul Hallet about the Conway Branch and NHN. It is rather long.
Boston Sand & Gravel, Ossipee Aggregates, and several other
sand/gravel/ stone businesses in our region were indeed bought out by a
large Irish conglomerate known as "Castle". They have kept the Pike
Industries corporate name locally as the management umbrella for all of
the New Hampshire properties. Castle/Pike is not interested in running a
railroad and they have had the NHN up for sale for over a year now, but
with no interested takers. Probably because the asking price is $3M for
everything (track, locomotives, hopper cars, shop building and
equipment, etc). They have not expressed any comments about abandonment
of the rail operation - they just want somebody else to buy it and run
it instead of them.
The stub of track that runs north from the enginehouse to Route 171 is
owned by NHN. It serves as the enginehouse lead track and I'm sure they
used part of it for empty hopper car storage as needed. For about one
year, they actually had a lumber customer on this track, where they
shoved lumber cars (one at a time) north to the spot behind the dealer.
It was East Coast Lumber who opened a retail outlet on Route 16 in what
is now a boat yard. East Coast Lumber is based out of Route 111 in
Hampstead , NH . They were trying to tap into the residential building
boom of the late 1980's. Using a front end loader they built a crude
road from behind the dealership to the tracks to access the lumber cars.
Well the business didn't boom for them and they closed up the store
after about a year.
The rails are intact on the rest of the stub out to Route 171, but there
are several small washouts due to pesky beavers (it is mostly swamp land
anyway) and the trees have seriously grown in next to the rails. The
only reason they haven't grown between the rails is the local
snowmobilers use this as part of a trail.
For many years, GRS owned the half mile of track between Route 171 and
Route 28. They removed the rails for scrap value, but kept ownership of
that segment to prevent the line from being used as a through-route for
freight traffic. Three years ago, the State of NH finally negotiated a
deal with GRS and purchased this last piece of the line. This purchase
deal was then the catalyst for the legislature to authorize DOT to
perform the feasability study on the revitalization/ restoration of the
Conway Branch. You and I attended that public hearing in Ossipee - so
you know the results from there forward.
Any effort to re-lay the rails south from Route 28 would need written
approval from the NHDOT as they are the legal guardians of this right of
way. And in the spirit of being good neighbors, I would hope the club
would also get a blessing from the local officials in the Town of
Ossipee as well.
As far as the GP-9 going to Waterville - who knows the real deal on
that? Short of talking directly to someone at NHN, the rumor mill is
nothing more than that. NHN may have sold the unit to another shortline,
or they may have just sent it to Waterville for some major maintenance
work that they can't perform at the Ossipee shop. Now is the time to get
any such maintenance projects completed, before things get busy again in
the spring time. Unless it has been sold to someone else, I doubt they
will spend any money to paint it, because traffic levels are low right
now, and I don't see Castle wanting to needlessly expend any more funds
then absolutely necessary. Besides, if they were going to paint
something, it would be the other GP-38-2 which is still in blue patch
paint. Furthermore, they can save a bundle of money and roller-paint the
unit themselves, just like the other GP-38-2 was done.
I know Lenny Gilmore (who is a speeder operator) works for NHN as their
engineer and he lives in Exeter . Perhaps if someone in the CVRTC has a
friendly connection with him, they can learn more about the GP-9 story.
So, as radio and television personality Paul Harvey would say, "Now you
know the rest of the story" ...