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New Hampshire Christmas Train Rides (2024): A Complete Guide

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Last revised: January 1, 2024

By: Adam Burns

New Hampshire is located in the heart of New England with the Connecticut River flanking its western border and a short segment of the Atlantic coastline between Portsmouth and Seabrook Beach.

In between, is the beautiful White Mountains and Lake Winnipesaukee, along with a myriad of smaller rivers.  The state offered incredible scenery, which could be viewed by rail as early as the late 1830s.

New Hampshire's first system was the Nashua & Lowell Railroad (N&L) chartered on June 26, 1835 to connect with the Boston & Lowell at Lowell, Massachusetts and extend northwesterly along the Merrimack River to Nashua, New Hampshire.

Its promoters' vision was to see a through route eventually open from the eastern seaboard to the Great Lakes. While this would not materialize the N&L was completed in late 1838 and eventually wound up as part of the modern Boston & Maine.

The B&M was, historically, the state's largest railroad which linked all of its biggest cities including Portsmouth, Nashua, Manchester, Concord, Dover, and Rochester.

One of the great scenic railroad's in the country can be found in New Hampshire, the Conway Scenic, which maintains a segment of the old Maine Central's legendary Mountain Division.  This trip is a must-visit for anyone who enjoys train rides and heritage railroads, offering spectacular scenery through the White Mountains along with numerous first-class services.

Overview

Conway Scenic Railroad

(North Conway):  This is one of New England's most popular excursions thanks to the region's breathtaking scenery, the railroad's top notch services, and its first class accommodations. 

The railroad began in 1974 through the vision of Bill Levy and Carroll Reed who acquired 7 miles of the Boston & Maine's Conway Branch and then picked up a section of Maine Central's "Mountain Division" in 1984. 

Today, these lines offer guests  two different rail packages; the "Valley Train" and "Notch Train."  You can also ride behind an authentic steam locomotive, Canadian National 0-6-0 #47 which was originally built in 1921. 

Among their amenities and accommodations is dinner trains, dome cars, first class services, and numerous special events each year. 

For the Christmas season they offer two different trips; the Santa's Holiday Express where kids can enjoy cocoa, cookies, a visit from Santa, and receive a small gift and Journey to the North Pole

The latter is somewhat similar to the former but the kids actually get to see the North Pole!  Both are a fun experience for the entire family.

Hobo Railroad/Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad

(Lincoln):  New England's rich rail heritage, its historically dense concentration of rails lines, and natural beauty have resulted in several heritage railroads popping up all over the region in the last 40 years. 

This has been especially true as freight railroads have abandoned or sold track deemed redundant or unprofitable.  The Hobo Railroad began in 1986 when it picked up 7 miles of an old Boston & Maine Branch from Woodstock to Lincoln.

Over the years, the operation has expanded to the point that it now also maintains the former Boston & Maine line from Concord to Lincoln, all of which is owned by the state of New Hampshire. 

Among their special events is the annual Santa Express Trains hosted from late November through December. The trains operate between Lincoln and Woodstock during the daytime only and last over an hour where kids can enjoy hot chocolate, receive a box of cookies, a visit from Santa, and a small gift.  



SteamLocomotive.com

Wes Barris's SteamLocomotive.com is simply the best web resource on the study of steam locomotives. 

It is difficult to truly articulate just how much material can be found at this website. 

It is quite staggering and a must visit!