A slow crawl. After coaling and watering their locomotive, the crew of the Mt. Washington Cog Railway's 2:30 PM steam departure makes the slow crawl from the coal bunker to the platform area, where they'll load passengers. Running at this slow speed, the clank of the cogwheels in the rack is distinctly audible as the train passes me. Even on a cloudy day in June, there will be 3 sections on this departure, two of which will have diesel hydraulic power and the one you see here. All three coaches will be filled, in a scene similar to what I am used to seeing in October, during fall colors season. Yes, The Cog is pretty busy these days....which is a good thing!
Over the 150 years of the railway's existence, the primary loading area for passengers has shifted back and forth between the present location of the Marshfield Station, and that of the railroad's shops, which are visible at the bottom of the hill behind the train. When the railroad opened in 1869, most of the loading occurred where the station is now, because most of the passengers arrived at the base station on stage coaches, which shuttled them from the Boston, Concord & Montreal Railroad Station at Fabyans, some 6 miles away. But in 1876, the BC&M constructed a branch line, from Fabyans to the Base Station, and the ride to The Cog became much easier. The BC&M used a 2-6-0 Mogul Locomotive, shoving 1-3 cars backward up the branch line's 6% grade, to an interchange station, located down where the shops are now. The reason that branch line didn't go as far as Marshfield is because the grade over that last half mile or so was just too much for the little rod engine Mogul. The lower interchange station then became the primary boarding point, and that operating scheme lasted until 1932. That's when automobiles and buses became so ubiquitous that the BC&M (by then Boston & Maine) connection was no longer necessary or profitable. At that time, the primary boarding location shifted back up the hill to where the present Marshfield Station is located, and that's where it remains today. For many years, the line continued to run a shuttle train between the lower and upper stations, and I recall actually riding that train in the 1980s....for free. It was basically a parking lot shuttle. Now, the shop location is just that. It's the place where the equipment is stored and maintained.