She said "wicked"
Sep. 22, 2003: As I was driving towards Mt. Washington, I saw these black plumes of smoke high up the mountain, and I couldn't figure out what they were from. A forest fire above treeline? Some strange weather phenomenon? Then I remembered the cog railway, a century-old train system that goes to the top of the mountain. In order to be able to climb (or at least get to the top of) three New England summits on consecutive days, I considered taking the train, and then earning the summit on another day.
The cog railway is about six miles from the Mount Washington Hotel, so, after basking in the aura of the Bretton Woods room, I went up to the railway depot.
The wickedly cute young lady behind the counter liberally sprinkled her conversation with the word "wicked," something I found quite interesting. It was like an SNL sketch, done live.
She tried to put the best face on the railway: it's a national treasure, it's just soot that the thing is spewing out near and far, all the cars on the auto road release much more pollution than the railway, it brings in money to the local economy. I'm not surprised about the latter, as a round-trip ticket costs $49.
However, I decided not to take the train. Even if magical mountain gnomes wisk the soot away before it even falls to ground, I still consider it an eyesore that ruins the view for miles around. I heard two unconfirmed reports that they might switch over to another power source within the near future, so that shouldn't be as much of a problem. However, see this older report ("Cog railway to remain steam") that says no change is planned.
I found others who agreed that while the train does bring in money, it's also unsightly. However, they didn't know who was the local busybody leading the anti-cog forces.
I stopped in at a couple of the climbing schools in the area, and took a look at the local climbing area. It was impressive, but I decided not to do anything because a) I didn't want to spend that much money, and b) I'm a peak-bagger, and there's no real peak to get to the top of.
I was thinking that my big Blogging Across America tour was going to end in New Hampshire, but at the last moment I decided to leave Mt. Washington temporarily and go check out Maine.