Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Birthplace of American Skiing
That’s the name given to North Conway, a year-round resort area, and the largest village within the town of Conway, which is bounded on the east by the Maine state line. North Conway is located in the White Mountains, with Mount Washington located to the northwest. Today, it’s known for numerous outlets, which we (thankfully) missed on our visit.
Chartered in 1765 by Colonial Governor Benning Wentworth, North Conway is named for Henry Seymour Conway, son of a prominent English family, who was elected to the House of Commons at age 20 and later became Secretary of State. Early settlers called the area Pequawket after an Abenaki Indian village.In the 19th century, the area became popular with artists whose landscape scenes, known collectively as White Mountain Art, attracted visitors to the area when the Portsmouth, Great Falls & Conway RR extended service to North Conway in 1872. In 1874, the railroad built the North Conway station designed by noted Boston architect Nathaniel J. Bradlee. The Victorian-style North Conway station was a showcase since the town was a prestigious summer resort and served as the northern terminus of the Conway Branch. In 1932, snow trains began running to the town as the sport grew with the development of ski lifts in the area. (Conway Historical Society photo.)
Automobile travel brought the decline of rail service, then in 1961, the Boston & Maine RR, abandoned passenger service to the area. The station was boarded up and in general disrepair for years.
In 1974, the Conway Scenic Railroad restored and reopened the station to provide seasonal excursion train service in the Mount Washington Valley. The station is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
We rode the excursion train with a stop at the White Mountain Cider Company where the apple cider donuts were delicious with pumpkin spice coffee. (Train enthusiast Grenville will have a railway post later.)