Peppersass, originally named Hero, was built in 1866.
Peppersass was the first mountain climbing cog railway engine in the world. It was used to build the railway and later haul passengers for about twelve years before being retired.
The original name Hero did not last long because a comment was made that it resembled a peppersauce bottle. From that point on it was called Peppersass.
The engine is displayed at the Base Station of Mount Washington in New Hampshire, along with a couple of other colorful engines.
It was a sunny day in July 1929. The temperature was warm and there was little wind. Peppersaas was scheduled to make its final climb up Mount Washington.
The Boston and Maine Railroad, who owned the Mount Washington Cog Railway at the time, decided to host this last run up the mountain. A gala celebration was planned to mark the return of Old Peppersass. Elaborate plans were made to run Old Peppersass up Mount Washington one more time before permanent retirement.
The stage was set for the most spectacular run Peppersass ever made—governors from six different states, photographers and newsmen, speeches, whistles, and a lot of cheering from spectators.
Six train loads of passengers headed up the mountain in front of the Peppersass, the last train towing a flatcar for photographers and newsmen. Old Peppersass climbed the route so familiar to her. All went well, and the 63 year old engine performed as before.
Delighted with this good performance by the engine, Peppersass climbed all the way up the summit, against the original plan of just climbing midway up Mount Washington. By 5 pm later that afternoon, Peppersass began its decent.
All was well for about a half mile of the descent. Then there was a loud crack from the front of the engine. A tooth had broken from one of the gears and caused the engine to raise up and out of the cog rack. When the engine came back down it did so on the right side of the rack and the cog was not engaged. This caused the old engine to immediately gain speed. The brakes were of no use because the cog was out of the rack. As gravity took over, the engine gained speed and was now completely out of control with no chance of ever stopping. It raced down Long Trestle towards Jacob’s Ladder, its speed unchecked.
Old Peppersass continued its wild plunge down the track, ripping pieces out as it went. Having covered almost 2100 feet in her final plunge down the mountain, Peppersass finally left the track and was wrecked. Despite the presence of many photographers and newsmen, the actual wreck of the Peppersass was never recorded on film. One photographer was killed in this tragic journey.
The boiler did not explode and was recovered. Pieces were scattered all over the area and it was decided to gather them up and rebuild Peppersass for display at the Base.
Peppersass on display at the Base Station, watching the trains depart and arrive.
As you can see, Peppersass is a pretty engine. As I stood at the base looking at Peppersass and taking pictures, I began thinking about that tragic final journey of this engine. But I also thought about her earlier days, about how proud the engineers were with their invention. I mean, this was the nineteenth century and Peppersaas was designed specifically to climb extremely steep gradients.
So, to the remarkable invention of the cog railway and to the fifteen years of her service, we are celebrating Peppersass with this colorful and healthy pasta dish.
Farfalle al salmone e piselli
(Bow-tie pasta with smoked salmon and peas)
This recipe is so easy you do not even need exact measurements! Or I may not have actually measured any of the ingredients while cooking this. But you now what, you can add as many green peas and bell peppers as you want, or sprinkle grated cheese as plenty as your conscience allows.
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Finely-chopped onions
- Minced garlic
- Bell pepper, chopped
- Green peas
- Bow-tie pasta
- Dill leaves
- Low-fat milk
- Salt and pepper
- Optional: grated cheese of your choice, red chili flakes for heat, and mushrooms.
- Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain and keep aside.
- Add a tablespoon or two of extra virgin olive oil in a pan.
- Over medium heat, saute finely-chopped onion and minced garlic (until the onions are translucent and the garlic fragrant).
- Add the chopped bell peppers.
- Gradually stir in about ½ cup low-fat milk. Heat to just below boiling point and, if you want, gradually stir in some grated cheese until the sauce is smooth. I skipped the cheese in this recipe.
- Stir in peas and cook over low heat for 4 minutes. You can also add mushrooms.
- Season with salt and black pepper.
- Toss in smoked salmon, and cook for 2 more minutes.
- Sprinkle dill on the sauce.
- Serve over pasta.