The "other" White Pass steamer. Although the White Pass & Yukon Route currently owns 2 steam engines, you'll rarely see publicity photographs showing anything other than the nicely proportioned Mikado #73. In fact, you'll rarely see any steam power other than the 73 on the line's bi-weekly Fraser Meadows steam excursions. That's because the 73 is not only better looking than the alternative, it is also more popular with the crews. The alternative is the engine seen here.
This is WPY #69. She's an outside-frame Baldwin Consolidation built for this line back in 1908. She wasn't built for comfort, speed or beauty. She was built for one and only one purpose: pushing heavy freights up the 20 mile hill out of Skagway to White Pass. With her big, fat boiler, her wide stance, and her small drivers, she sported 28,000 lbs of tractive effort, which is more than the 70-class engines that came much later. In her heyday, she was also superheated. She's a big, ole draft horse, plain and simple.
On the downside, her ergonomics are about as ugly as she is. On an oil-burner, it is really important for the Engineer and Fireman to be able to communicate and work together. Unfortunately, the 69 has a deckless cab, so the two crew members sit aside opposite sides of the boiler backhead. They cannot physically see each other and voice communication is just difficult. With the firebox door behind him, the Fireman also cannot see his fire. The glow on the front of the oil tank is about the best he can do. He adjusts his fuel/air mixture by leaning out the cab window and watching his stack. And along the way someplace, the superheaters were removed, so she's now piggy on water. When it is necessary to run the 69 to Frasier, the railroad has to position water support at Glacier Siding....and of course, they have to stop, which takes time. All of that said, this locomotive is still a big horse and performs well on the hill. This photo was taken in April of 2011, when she was being used as a pusher on the White Pass Rotary Train....a job she handled quite well.