Remembering Joe "Eggy" Eggleston. This afternoon, as I prepared to continue my recent series of photos on the Mt. Washington Cog Railway, I heard some absolutely devastating news. Joe Eggleston, one of the most well-known and beloved faces of the Cog Railway, was tragically killed this past weekend in a hiking accident on Mt. Willard, in New Hampshire's White Mountains. Having seen the TV reports on the New Hampshire stations, I still cannot believe this happened.
The railroad preservation community has lost a long-time brother and just an incredibly nice human being. Anyone who has ever met Joe, or just seen him in the cab will remember him for his incredible smile. He wore it constantly and was the most incredible ambassador the Mt. Washington Cog Railway could have. I always looked forward to chatting with Joe. I've heard him say that all he ever wanted to do was be a steam locomotive engineer and it was the Mt. Washington Cog Railway that made it possible. As a child, Joe lost his hearing to spinal meningitis, but he never gave up on the dream. He joined the railway 30 years ago, working in the shops and eventually, into that right seat in the cab. If you're a steam aficionado and you've visited The Cog, Joe was the face of the steam program and he always had time for fans like me. It didn't matter whether he was turning wrenches, or steam-cleaning the boiler, or up in the cab, high on the mountain, Joe was always wearing that big smile. He truly loved what he did and by all accounts, his colleagues truly loved him.
Life is just not fair. Evil dictators, who start devastating wars, will live to ripe old ages, but we have fine, gentle people like Joe taken from us far too soon. My next visit to The Cog just won't be the same. My sincere condolences to his wife and all of the "coggers" on the railway who knew him and worked with him.
Every time we hear that long, mournful whistle as one of the steamers attacks Cold Spring Hill, we will always think of Joe.