Like a rocket going to the moon. When the NH Legislature granted a charter to Sylvester Marsh in 1858, to build his railway to the summit of Mt. Washington, they thought the guy was nuts. They jokingly said they were granting him permission to build a railway to the moon. Now, every time I watch one of these steamers depart for the top, and see the incredible steam and smoke plumes trailing behind it, I can't help but think of the big Saturn V rockets I watched as a kid, slowly and majestically taking off for the moon.....for real. Here, we see "The Deuce", MWRC #2, with Joe Eggleston on the forward steam valve, easing up to full power on the bridge over the Ammonoosuc, in the first sunlight of the day, trailing an awesome combo of steam and smoke as it heads for the top.
As Cog Railway trains leave the Marshfield platform, they typically do so at very slow speed as there is a large hydraulic switch just ahead as well as the bridge over the Ammonoosuc River, both of which have mandatory slow orders. Once clear of both however, the Engineers let 'er rip....so to speak. The burst of speed is not exactly eye-watering, as the steamers accelerate to 2.8 mph, and the diesels to 4-5 mph. The trip to the summit of Mt. Washington takes about an hour and 10 minutes for the steam engine, including a brief stop for water at Waumbek Tank, about 1/3 of a mile up the line. For the diesels, it's a quick 45 minute trip, slowing only for the switches on the passing loop at Waumbek.