'The biggest innovation since 1869'
Biodiesel locomotive joins the Cog Railway
The Associated Press
September 08, 2008 - 7:12 am
An old, coal-powered engine chugs up the Mount Washington Cog Railway in 2006. On Saturday, Gov. John Lynch helped dedicate a new locomotive that runs on biodiesel.
The Mount Washington Cog Railway has gone green.
Gov. John Lynch helped the railway dedicate a new biodiesel locomotive before playing engineer and driving the train Saturday.
For 139 years, the Railway has chugged to the top of Mount Washington by burning wood and coal. Coal replaced wood about 1910, and each trip required more than 1 ton of coal and 1,000 gallons of water to move the 18-ton engine.
With the dedication of the new locomotive, the railway signaled that it will supplement the coal-fired trains with several biodiesel engines, cutting emissions and the use of fossil fuels.
Lynch broke a bottle of water from the Ammonoosuc River on the engine's cab, and an American flag was removed to reveal the locomotive's name: Wajo Nanatasis. The name, pronounced "wadzo nanna-tassis," is Abenaki for "mountain hummingbird" and was selected from entries in a contest.
Ruth and Larry Kirkman of Brookville, Pa., suggested the name.
About 300 people gathered at the base of Mount Washington to help dedicate the engine, which co-owner Joel Bedor called the "the biggest innovation since 1869."
The Mount Washington Cog Railway is a National Historic Engineering Landmark. Its first locomotive, Old Peppersass, reached the summit of Mount Washington July 3, 1869, making it the world's first mountain-climbing railroad using a toothed cogwheel to engage the track between the rails.
Railway President Wayne Presby said the new 617-horsepower engine is controlled by a computer system that will shorten the round trip from three hours to two, while monitoring every detail of the vehicle and track.
After dedicating the locomotive, Lynch waved from the cab and took the controls.
"Everybody clear out," he cried as he pushed the joystick that controlled the train.