Washington Hill Climb Centennial
by Pat Farrell
(photos are smaller than PhotoAlbum) ~ page 1 2 3 4 5 6
Merrily and I just returned from the worlds largest gathering this century of steam cars at Gorham, New
Hampshire. There were at least 85 steamers there during the two weeks of auction and touring programs that
were hosted by the Stanley Museum.
Friday, August 6th, at the auction, there were many good buys to be had by the person that was paying
attention. Many rare steam car parts as well as a complete and running 1905 CX Stanley were auctioned off to
the highest bidder. Of the 39 lots of Stanley steamer parts that we purchased, 27 lots were for $10 or less. Since
we had our car trailer there, we tried filling it the best we could.
Saturday evening, August 7th , an evening dinner was put on by the Mt. Washington Auto Road for the
exhibitors of Sunday's car show. It was a gas light ride back into town with our '14 Stanley late that evening.
On the way we tooted our steamer's whistle to chase a Moose out from the middle of the road. Merrily said, "
You should blow your whistle, the moose will think it is a mating call and may charge us." It didn't, and it just
wandered off to the shoulder of the road.
Sunday morning found us displaying our Stanley along side of 85 other steam cars. Big crowds of visitors
were expected but the heavy all day rains kept them down to a discouraging small attendance. That afternoon
about 4 p.m., after the rains had cleared, we went for a climb of the Mt Washington Auto Road. Our steam
cycles on at 375 pounds and off at 425 pounds. We were over half way up the mountain past the half way
house site and on 18 per cent grade when we stalled our car. The steam was at 375 pounds and hadn't cycled
back on yet and it just wasn't enough to turn our wheels. Discouraged, well knowing that the grade eventually
will hit 22 per cent, we backed down into a turn around and came back down the mountain. Rather than raise
our steam pressure and risk engine damage, we decided not to challenge the mountain again. Later, after the
boiler had cooled down, six fire tubes on the front of our boiler's tube sheet started to leak. Apparently they
were overheated with only a shallow water covering as were were climbing the steep grade.
Monday found Merrily on the mountain again riding a Locomobile, doing a publicity video of the
reenactment of the first motorized vehicle climb in 1899. The video was shown world wide on CBS, PBS and
others. Mean while I was back at the hotel polishing our Stanley and taking pictures of other steamers.
The rest of the week, we toured around Vermont and New Hampshire seeing the historical sights like the
hotels: The Balsams, The Mt. Washington Hotel and more.
Except for our burner giving us fits because it is worn out, the rest of the week rated a perfect 10. Beautiful
weather and excellent tour routes through the White Mountains kept us all entertained. By the end of the week,
two American steamers had climbed the mountain's Auto Road and three British steamers has conqured it
On the way home, in Fargo, North Dakota, we experienced our first tornado. It crept right over our heads
but it's funnel didn't touch down. The whirling dark cloud above us had sheet lighting continuously flashing
and occasionally a pitch fork of lighting would jump to the ground. Exciting! Intimidating!
We were honored to be part of this great gathering of steam cars. We know that we probably won't ever see
another steam car tour of this magnitude in our lifetimes.
We give great thanks to Sue Davis and her staff of the Stanley Museum for the tremendous job that they
performed in putting on this world class event.