The "Deuce" makes her entrance. About 15 minutes before it's scheduled 8:30 AM departure, Engineer Joe Eggleston brings MWRC #2 "Ammonoosuc" and her coach to the platform at Marshfield Station. Known to the crews as "The Deuce", #2 is one of two steam locomotives that are maintained in operating condition by the Mt. Washington Cog Railway. The steam engines make two trips up the hill each day, typically at the beginning of the day and again at the end. This little trip up from the servicing area gives the morning steam trip passengers a chance to photograph and admire these most unusual locomotives, prior to boarding for their trip. And of course, Engineer Joe typically gets a ton of questions about his "iron horse", which he answers with great enthusiasm. Joe is a long-time engineer at the Cog Railway and always has a big smile on his face when he's "in the office." He's a man who truly loves what he does for a living.
The locomotive seen is a descendant of one built by the Manchester Locomotive Works in 1875 for the Mt. Washington Cog Railway. I say she's a descendant, because nearly nothing you see here dates back to the 1800s. All of Mt. Washington's steam engines have been rebuilt many times over the years. Most have also carried several names. This one has been #2 "Ammonoosuc" for nearly 90 years. When the line went to primarily diesel power in 2009, the decision as to which ones to keep operational pretty much came down to their condition at the time. The two survivors, the #2 and #9, were in the best shape of the 6 that remained intact. In addition, both engines had the feedwater heater modifications, which made them more efficient than the rest of the fleet. Today, the two operational engines are probably in the best shape they have ever been in, thanks to the fact that only one is typically running at any given time, and that "runner" only has to make 2 trips per day. One engine can be receiving major maintenance, while the other is in service. This is in stark contrast to the way things were when the line ran nothing but steam. In those days, these little engines were going straight out most of the time and the maintenance windows were narrow. My photos of them from those days depict very tired-looking engines. As you can see here, that's not the case today.