Ready for battle! With the fuel and water tanks fully topped and all crew positions fully manned, the White Pass Rotary Fleet sits at Glacier Siding (MP 14.1) awaiting the order to move from White Pass Superintendent Ed Hanousek. This very purposeful train consists of the 1898-vintage Rotary #1, which has worked this line almost since it opened. The rotary weighs in at 154,000 lbs...more than the weight of Mikado #73, which is right behind her. The 73 is actually the baby of the fleet, having been constructed for the WP&YR by Baldwin in 1947. Immediately behind the 73 is Consolidation #69, a much older White Pass Baldwin, that was built in 1908. The "caboose" on this train and the home for the 12-man crew is the cupola-equipped, Combine #211, which was originally built for the Sumpter Valley Railroad in 1918, but was brought to the WP&YR by the US Army during WW2 and has remained ever since.
Standing on the ground to the right of the rotary plow is 75 year-old Rotary Pilot Alvin Gordon, about to mount up. Although he'd been retired from the railroad for at least a decade, Mr. Gordon came along on this trip as one of the few no-kidding Rotary Pilots who ran this machine when this was a bona-fide freight line. His job this trip? Train some of the younger guys in the lost art of rotary plow operation. Yes, the primary purpose of this whole operation was crew training, not photography.