Who is Hattie Evans? Remarkable Woman’s Legacy Lives on Through Family, Iconic NH Train
If you've ever ridden on the Conway Scenic Railroad and enjoyed sitting down for a meal while traveling through Crawford Notch, you were sitting in a dining car called the Hattie Evans. It was named in honor of a remarkable woman to who my family has a connection.
In 1897, Maine Central Railroad foreman Loring Evans married Hattie Smith and they raised a family of four in the Mount Willard Section House that sat right next to the tracks which were only able to be reached by train. The house was used to provide a place for rail workers to have room and board until their next shift. You can see the house in the distance at the end of the trestle here:
Tragically, Loring was killed in a train accident, leaving Hattie a widow with four small children. Rather than leave the section house, Hattie decided to stay to continue to provide the room and board that these hard rail workers required while raising her kids.
According to The Bartlett Historical Society, the train would come by each morning to take Hattie's four children to school, but because they were traveling uphill, they couldn't stop. The conductor would lean out and grab each child by the arm and pull them onto the moving train after Hattie placed them next to the tracks about 40 feet apart.
What's my family's connection to this legendary woman? My aunt, Lynne Parsons, was the granddaughter of Hattie Evans. That's her on the far right with her siblings and cousins for the Hattie Evans dining car dedication at the memorial where the Mt. Willard Section House once stood.
My aunt passed away in March, but she was so grateful for what the Conway Scenic did to recognize her grandmother. She had this to say about that day:
"Thank you Conway Scenic from the Evans Family. It has been great to have our Grandmother recognized. She represents the many people who have worked hard in the past and today. We enjoyed the dining experience with family and all. The car has been restored to a level beyond our expectations. We are looking forward to our next ride. Thank you all for your hard work."
She took this picture of the car named after her grandmother. I'm sure she'd be happy I used it.
It seemed only fitting that on the way home from my aunt's celebration of life, I heard the horn of the Conway Scenic and stopped to take this video of it as it passed through to North Conway with the Hattie Evans at the end of the train.
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