A show of defiance at 4,725 ft. MSL. It is June 13th of 2009 and my colleague Dennis Livesey and I are on "The Rockpile".....New Hampshire's Mount Washington. Dennis and I are there to record one of the last few days of hourly steam operations on the mountain's famous Cog Railway. In less than 2 weeks, 140 years of steam tradition will come to an end with the entry into service of the railroad's 2nd and 3rd diesel hydraulic locomotives. After that, there will be but one token steam trip per day. After that, a fleet of 7 operable steam locomotives will have been reduced to just 2, only one of which will ever operate at any given time.
As Dennis and I spotted the last of this day's steam trips starting its descent over the famed Jacob's Ladder Trestle, the locomotive's fireman caught sight of the two of us, perched where virtually no tourist ever goes, and it was as if he instantly knew why we were there. Without hesitation, he suddenly climbed the coal pile and hoisted his scoop high over his head, pumping it in the air in a clear show of defiance for what was about to happen to his railroad, and unfortunately, his job. I think he knew we were in his camp, and I was glad to be able to capture the moment. Change is a part of life, and after 140 years of operating as an all steam railroad, The Cog was finally going the route that the mainline railroads went, some 60 or more years earlier. But unlike the mainline railroads, some steam was destined to remain.