LW&C class O #965 in electric blue

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 receipts 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.

After rewiring the railroad for 3000VDC, and some very persuasive arguments from PV&T salespeople, it settled down as a somewhat profitable subsidiary up until WW2, a wildly profitable subsidiary during WW2, and then the abrupt collapse of freight traffic as the logging in what was now the White Mountain National Forest declined down to almost nothing.

The side-of-the-road line from Parsons Vale to Conway (with the Parsons Vale end cut short to Center Sandwich, and running on ex-B&M ROW from Madison to Conway) continues to be profitable thanks mainly to three gravel pits – in particular the one at the foot of Crowther’s Hill – along the line, and (debatably) occasional trackage fees when the Conway Scenic runs excursions south of Conway.

On the other hand, the woods line to Lincoln has had traffic almost completely evaporate (there’s a lumberyard & team track in Campton that still sees traffic, but that’s it.) The ex-A&ALCo branch (Wonalancet to Campton) along the Beebe River was abandoned in 1971 in favor of B&M trackage rights from Plymouth north, and the segment from Campton to Lincoln was embargoed in 1990 (not officially abandoned, but the overhead wire was taken down in 1992 so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯) and is not likely to see traffic ever again.

LW&C history

Lincoln and Concord Railway chartered
Operations from Lincoln to Campton.
Purchased A&ALCoRR; built branch to Wonalancet.
Reorganized as the Lincoln, Campton and Parsons Vale.
Wonalancet branch extended to Conway.
Reorganized as the Lincoln, Wonalancet and Conway Interurban Railway.
  • Abandoned, purchased by PV&T; Reorganized as the Lincoln, Wonalancet and Conway Railroad;
  • Parsons Vale to Conway converted to 3000VDC.
Parsons Vale to Lincoln converted to 3000VDC

All-time LW&C Roster

No. Type Builder Built Notes
1-3 0-4-4T Baldwin 1884 From A&ALCoRR, retired 1936
5 4-4-0 Manchester 1886 Dumped in the woods 1936
7,8 box motor Brill 1904 To PV&T 278,279, retired 1937
9-11 box motor Brill 1904 Retired 1925
20-27 Passenger motor Brill 1905 Scrapped 1930
28-30 Passenger trailer Laconia 1910 Scrapped 1936
40 Steeplecab Baldwin 1910 To PV&T 280, then PVRT 1040; To Seashore Trolley Museum 1961
41 Steeplecab Baldwin 1910 To PV&T 281. then PVRT 1018; Wrecked 1964
42 Steeplecab Baldwin 1910 To PV&T 282, then PVRT 980, and back to PV&T 282 in 1967; in service
100-103 Passenger motor Brill 1914 Scrapped 1931
104-105 Passenger motor Brill 1914 Retired 1936
110-113 Box motor Laconia 1914 Sold in 1936
200-203 Passenger motor St Louis 1927 Steel cars, Retired 1936
1065 4-4-0 Amoskeag 1851 From A&ALCo 4, to PV&T 277; to Steamtown 1975
  • Copyright © 2024 by Jessica L. Parsons (orc@pell.portland.or.us) unless otherwise noted
    Wed Jun 24 01:04:00 PDT 2009