"Dispatch, the Rotary Fleet is at the summit." The radios crackle with Superintendent Hanousek's announcement that his rotary train is at the actual summit of White Pass (2,940 MSL) and is plowing north toward Fraser, BC. The snow is roughly 2-3 feet deep here and the rotary is handling it with ease. Photographers like myself, who are chasing it on snowshoes, are beginning to have a hard time keeping up. Despite the appearance of the surroundings, I am unzipping my jacket and taking off my gloves, because I am getting very warm. It won't be long before Superintendent Hanousek calls a temporary halt to the operation, to give the photographers a chance to rest, and his rotary crew a chance to bail out of the virtual sauna that is the cab of Old Number 1.
The White Pass Rotary Fleet this day consists of the 1898-vintage Rotary #1, an Alco Cooke product, 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. Unlike the 73, the 69 is an outside frame locomotive and the drivers are not visible. 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.