The power behind the plow: White Pass #73. The antithesis of White Pass #69 is the beautiful Mikado you see here. This is White Pass Locomotive #73. It is quite literally THE last word in narrow gauge steam engines.
Built in 1947, she was the last of the 4 White Pass 70-class engines and one of the last narrow gauge steamers delivered by the Baldwin Locomotive Works. The 70-class were superheated, 145,000 lb locomotives with just over 25,000 lbs of tractive effort. They were custom-built for the White Pass & Yukon Route and were capable of handling 25 degree curves and 3.9% grades, all of which were present on this railroad. They were also among the nicest looking narrow gauge Mikes ever built. Crews really liked them because they were easy on water, provided great power and their cabs were much more ergonomically designed than some earlier White Pass Engines, like the 69.
The 73 was not in service all that long. She was retired in 1964, after just 17 years of operation. On static display for many years in Bennett, BC and White Horse, YT, she was restored in 1982 for use on tourist trains. She operates in that role to this day, running a couple of round trips per week from Skagway to Fraser. She is seen here, as the lead pusher on the 2011 White Pass Rotary Plow Train. The odd-looking hose connection you see running forward to the rotary is a water line, enabling the engine to pass water from her tender to the rotary.
Oh, and whatever happened to the rest of the White Pass 70-class? One sister, the #70, is currently operational at the Dollywood Theme Park in Pigeon Forge, TN. That same facility also has custody of the remains of the 71, which might be restored at some future time. The fate of the 72 is less clear. Some accounts indicated that only the chassis was left, and that it was scrapped at Dollywood some years ago.