5145
White River Junction
The Glory Days of the Railroad
Discover the railroad history of VT and NH as you ride the Cog Railway to the top of Mt. Washington, take Amtrak to historic Bellows Falls, and discuss life on the rails.
Rating (5)
Program No. 5145RJ
Length
6 days
Starts at
939
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6 days
5 nights
14 meals
5 B 4 L 5 D
Getting There
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DAY
1
Check-in, Registration, Welcome Dinner, Orientation
White River Junction, Vermont
D
Hotel Coolidge

Activity note: Hotel check-in available from 4:00 p.m.

Afternoon: Program Registration: 4:00-6:00 p.m. Register and get your room assignment at the front desk, along with your welcome packet containing your name-tag, up-to-date schedule that reflects any last-minute changes, and other important information. If you arrive late, please ask for your packet when you check in.

Dinner: 6:30. In the Hotel Coolidge dining room, our first night dinner is a plated meal with green salad, stuffed chicken breast with rice and hot vegetables, rolls, dessert, and beverages include coffee, tea, water. If you’re traveling by Amtrak (arriving approximately 6:30 p.m.), don’t worry, we’ll keep your meal warm while you settle in.

Evening: Orientation: After dinner we'll remain in the dining room where the Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the program theme, the up-to-date daily schedule and any changes, discuss safety guidelines, emergency procedures, roles and responsibilities, and answer any questions you may have. Indicated times are approximate. Program activities, schedules, and personnel may need to change due to local circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding. We have set aside some free time in the schedule for your personal independent exploration. The Group Leader and hotel staff are available to make recommendations. Continue getting to know your fellow participants, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead.

DAY
2
Lectures on Railroads in Vermont and New England
White River Junction, Vermont
B,L,D
Hotel Coolidge

Activity note: The walk around the village is a half-mile circuit, with stops and commentary along the way.

Breakfast: In the hotel dining room, the breakfast buffet offers selections such as scrambled eggs, meat (sausage or bacon), and pancakes or waffles accompanied by Vermont maple syrup, plus coffee/tea/ decaf and water.

Morning: Railroad historian Jay Barrett leads our first class with a Powerpoint presentation on the history of railroads in Vermont and New England. The arrival of the railroad in the mid-19th century had a profound impact, accelerating economic and population growth with an influx of people from nearby states as well as immigrants from other countries.

Lunch: In the hotel dining room, our make-your-own sandwich buffet also includes green salad, pasta or potato salad, dessert, and coffee/tea/decaf, water.

Afternoon: Innkeeper, Group Leader, and town native David Briggs will provide an overview of White River Junction and its railroad and commercial history through the years. One of five villages that make up the town of Hartford, Vermont, it has been a crossroads for travel by water, roads, and a stop on rail lines for more than two centuries. Next, we’ll take a walking field trip through the village to gain a deeper understanding of its history as a transportation and commercial hub, including the most recent phase of its development in the early 21st century. At the conclusion of our field trip, we’ll return to the hotel with time to freshen up and relax before dinner.

Dinner: In the hotel dining room.

Evening: Chuck Bohi is a long-time, intreprid railroad enthusiast who has been using photography to document the evolution of North American railroads since the 1960s. Chuck will present a slideshow and discuss recent developments in the rail industry.

DAY
3
Cog Railway, Conway Scenic Railroad, Free Evening
White River Junction, Vermont
B,L,D
Hotel Coolidge

Activity note: All day field trip

Breakfast: In the hotel dining room.

Morning: Now that we’ve learned about the area and its rail history, we’ll embark on a full-day railroading field trip. We begin with a scenic motorcoach ride up the Connecticut River Valley into the White Mountains region of New Hampshire to our first stop: a ride aboard the Conway Scenic Railroad from North Conway through dramatic Crawford Notch and then by bus on to Bretton Woods. The 1874 station is on the National Register of Historic Places. Commentary about sites and history along the route are narrated by a Conway Scenic interpreter.

Lunch: We’ll have box lunches on the Conway Scenic Railroad.

Afternoon: Arriving at the base station in Bretton Woods (2,700' above sea level), we prepare for a memorable experience climbing to the top of Mount Washington (6,288’) aboard the Cog Railway. The world’s first mountain-climbing cog railway and an amazing innovation for its time, the Cog was inaugurated in 1868 and has been in operation ever since. Commentary about the Cog and the mountain will be provided by the conductor. Depending on the always dubious weather, we can walk around on the summit and explore the informative exhibits at the visitors’ center. We’ll also visit a small museum at the base lodge before we board the motorcoach and return to the hotel along a different scenic route. Dinner will be waiting for us when we arrive.

Dinner: In the hotel dining room.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
4
Amtrak to Bellows Falls, Railroad & Public Policy
White River Junction, Vermont
B,L,D
Hotel Coolidge

Breakfast: In the hotel dining room.

Morning: The day begins with a presentation about the curious story of Engine 494, which clandestinely took up residence in White River Junction and finally came to rest under a pavilion at the train station. Then we’ll walk to the station and ride Amtrak from White River to the old industrial town of Bellows Falls, Vermont.

Lunch: We’ll have a catered lunch at the Bellows Falls Welcome Center. You are then welcome to stroll through the historic village.

Afternoon: We’ll have a presentation about the industrial history of Bellows Falls, which dates back to the 1790s, and a short walking tour of the town’s industrial island, which was a rail hub. Then we’ll board our motorcoach and continue our exploration of America’s Industrial Revolution in Springfield and Windsor, Vermont, known as Precision Valley. In Windsor we’ll visit the American Precision Museum, where the concept of interchangeable parts was invented and which was a critical Union armory during the Civil War, and tour an exhibit of early machine tools. Then we’ll return to the hotel, with time to freshen up and relax before dinner.

Dinner: In the hotel dining room.

Evening: We’ll be joined by Christopher Parker, Director of the Vermont Rail Action Network, who will discuss railroads and public policy.

DAY
5
Railroad Photography, Free Time, Local Folkways & Culture
White River Junction, Vermont
B,L,D
Hotel Coolidge

Breakfast: In the hotel dining room.

Morning: Jim Murphy, a semi-retired telegrapher with the Central Vermont Rail Road, is a member of the National Railroad Historical Association and active railroad history collector. He will regale us with images and stories from his more than 50 years (and counting) immersed in railroading.

Lunch: In the hotel dining room.

Afternoon: Free Afternoon. Take this opportunity for personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. Please refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions and give directions.

Dinner: In the hotel dining room.

Evening: Vermont filmmaker John O'Brien will join us to discuss and show clips from his Vermont Trilogy movies, which are an amusing and sincere homage to disappearing local folkways and culture.

DAY
6
Wit, Wisdom & Music with a VT Troubadour, Program Concludes
White River Junction, Vermont
B

Activity note: Hotel check-out is by 11:00 a.m.

Breakfast: In the hotel dining room.

Morning: Enjoy the wit, wisdom, and music of one of Vermont's best-known members of the state senate. Dick McCormack will sing railroad songs and talk about Vermont humor. This concludes our program. You will have a bag lunch that you make take with you. We hope you enjoy all your Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. We encourage you to join our Facebook page and share photos of your program. Visit us at www.facebook.com/rsadventures. Best wishes for all your journeys!






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