PARSONS VALE


LW&C route map

The Lincoln, Wonalancet and Conway Railroad was a typical side of the road interurban that was built in the wrong place, at the wrong time, and was managed incompetently enough to guarantee an early demise, but which nevertheless existed long enough to become desirable to a mainline railway and still exists, albeit as a wholly-owned subsidiary of the PV&T.

In 1905, the Lincoln and Concord Railway was chartered to run an interurban down the Pemigewasset River from Lincoln and Woodstock, to “provide easy access for the logger to the cities of Lincoln, Woodstock, and Concord.” By the time the railroad had reached Campton (1906), it had pretty much exhausted its resources, and having realized that there really wasn’t that much passenger traffic (and that the Boston and Maine was not planning to give it up) decided to pursue finished lumber traffic that was currently being shipped by the B&M and the PV&T. The L&C purchased the mortibund Ace & Acme Lumber Company (and its logging railroad – Campton to Parsons Vale via Sandwich Notch), built a branch from Parsons Vale to Wonalancet (1909), then fell into bankruptcy when nervous creditors called in their loans.

Reorganized in 1910 as the Lincoln, Campton and Parsons Vale, it struggled along through the 1910s making or losing money in equal portions. In 1918, after the end of the first world war, the LC&PV extended the Wonalancet branch to Conway, and, for the first time in its life, started to make money from passenger traffic. This, regrettably, did not last long; competition from the private automobile started to cut deeply into passenger receipts, and the LC&PV fell back into bankruptcy in 1923.

At this point, the sea of red ink was large enough so the sensible thing to do would have been to abandon the whole concern; the B&M kept most of the freight from the Pemigewassit river branch, and passenger traffic was simply a millstone around the neck of the railway. But, no, hope springs eternal in the heart of a creditor, so the lawyers trotted down to Concord, reorganized the railroad as the Lincoln, Wonalancet and Conway Interurban Railway (1925), and, armed with a spiffy new name and some new passenger cars, went forth to do battle with the big railroads again.

And the LW&C, to the amazement of onlookers, actually made money. By severely trimming passenger services (almost no local service, many joint weekend and ski services with the PVRT and the PV&T from Boston and Albany) and hiring a PV&T salesman to hunt for freight, the reciepts actually covered expenses, and the LW&C started to consider that, just maybe, it would be worthwhile to finish the original line to Concord. This was in 1928. In 1929, the bottom fell out of the stock market and the LW&C followed many many other interurban railways right over the edge into bankruptcy.

For the next 7 years, the LW&C remained in the hands of the trustees. It was making no money, nobody was interested in supplying more money to build out of trouble, and the condition of the railroad just kept getting worse. In May of 1936, the LW&C filed for abandonment, at which point the PV&T, which had been coveting the Lincoln and Conway freight traffic, stepped in and bought the assets of the railroad for cash.

In 1966, very little freight traffic remains on the LW&C. The Concord branch has a gravel pit that brings out about 10 cars of gravel a day for delivery to Boston and Montréal, and the Lincoln branch has three mills, a warehouse, and a oil distributor – a grand total of another 5 cars a day.

LW&C history

1905
Lincoln and Concord Railway chartered
1906
Operations from Lincoln to Campton.
1907
Purchased A&ALCoRR; built branch to Wonalancet.
1909
Bankrupt.
1910
Reorganized as the Lincoln, Campton and Parsons Vale.
1918
Wonalancet branch extended to Conway.
1923
Bankrupt.
1925
Reorganized as the Lincoln, Wonalancet and Conway Interurban Railway.
1929
Bankrupt.
1936
  • Abandoned, purchased by PV&T; Reorganized as the Lincoln, Wonalancet and Conway Railroad;
  • Parsons Vale to Conway converted to 3000VDC.
1937
Parsons Vale to Lincoln converted to 3000VDC

All-time LW&C Roster

No. Type Builder Built Disposition
2 0-4-4T steam Baldwin 1890 From A&ALCoRR, retired 1936
5 caboose A&ALCoRR shops 1901 From A&ALCoRR, to PV&T M1106; stored
7,8 box motor Brill 1904 To PV&T 278,279; retired 1937
9-11 box motor Brill 1904 Retired 1925
12 snowplow A&ALCoRR shops 1901 From A&ALCoRR, to PV&T M1105; stored
20-27 Passenger motor Brill 1905 Scrapped 1936
28-30 Passenger trailer Laconia 1910 Scrapped 1936
40 Steeplecab Baldwin 1910 To PV&T 280. To PVRT 1040. To Seashore Trolley Museum 1961
41 Steeplecab Baldwin 1910 To PV&T 281. To PVRT 1018. Wrecked 1964
42 Steeplecab Baldwin 1910 To PV&T 282. To PVRT 980. To PV&T 282
50-57 Hopper car AC&F 1918 Sold to PH&W 1936
60-69 Boxcar AC&F 1920 To PV&T 2060-2069. Scrapped 1950-1955
100-105 Passenger motor Brill 1919 Retired 1936
110-113 Box motor Laconia 1920 Sold in 1936
200-203 Passenger motor St Louis 1927 Retired 1936
1000-1059 log car Montreal Carriage 1885 From A&ALCoRR 20-79. Scrapped 1936
1065 0-4-0T+T Manchester/A&ALCoRR 1881 From A&ALCoRR 4. To PV&T 277