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page 9b

Embossed postcard with train image - 20th Century Limited

20¢ COG RAILWAY COIL - June 9, 1995

(Final transportation Coil design)

Sc. 2463 - issued 6/9/95

The following text is from the USPS First Day Ceremony Program for this stamp, held at Texpex '95 in Dallas, Texas, June, 9, 1995

With their tilted boilers and balloon smokestacks, the Cog Railway Cars have often been referred to as funny little engines, but their odd design and special gearing adapt them well to the task of climbing.

Cog Railway Cars were invented from an idea of Sylvester Marsh, a 54 year-old retired businessman from New Hampshire. After climbing to the top of Mount Washington, Marsh began to think of a safer and easier way to reach the summit. A railroad seemed to be the most promising idea, for if he could build an engine capable of aacending such grades, It could transport materials to build the track as it went along.

Some of the earliest locomotives employed central or outer cog rails for propulsion. They were built to transport coal from mines, but no one had ever attempted to build a cog locomotive that was intended to climb a mountain or any other such comparable grade.

Conventional locomotives are propelled by adhesion of the wheels to the rails and can climb only short, seven to nine percent grades. A Cog Railway locomotive can climb much steeper grades.

The engine's reduced gear ratio enables it to climb steep grades, its ratchet keeps it from rolling backwards while doing so, and it can descend at a safe speed by compressing air in the steam cylinders.

Cog Railway engines were running before the existence of television, ailplanes, automobiles, even the electric light, and so many other devices we commonly take for granted.

There are currently about fifly-five Cog Railway Cars in the world. The first, built in New Hampshire, is the Mount Washington Cog Railway which has been in operation since 1869, and is still using much of its original equipment.

The Cog Railway Cars of Manitou and Pikes Peak Railway Company in Colorado ascend sections of twenty-five percent, with an average grade of fifteen percent, and climb the highest elevation gain of any Cog Railway car in the world.

The science of mountain railroading, however, has been perfected in the high Alps of Switzerland, where there are twenty-five Cog Railways.

This stamp was announced as the last of the Transportation Coil designs, and that added a nice philatelic element to the issue, on which many cachet-makers capitalized. The pair of covers below contains all 51 of the subjects issued, and all 57 of the different major varieties, excluding the precancels and some subtler variations in paper and tagging. By my count there were 104 different Transportation coils, including all those additional varieties, when I stopped collecting them a couple of years ago. There are probably a few more by now.

See if you can figure out why the cachet maker chose to arrange the stamps as he did - I'm still pondering that question.

Sc. 2463 FDC set with all the Transportation Coil designs

Sc. 2463 FDC set with all the Transportation Coil designs

The postcard below, from about 1920 by my reckoning, was not mailed, but has the following penciled text on the back:

Going over Jacob's Ladder it just seems as though you were suspended in mid air with nothing around you but the clouds and you begin to think if anything gave way on that train it would roll off the tracks and drop to the bottom.

Postcard with image of Mt. Washington Cog Railway

Below is the Fleetwood First Day Cover for this issue, with some interesting additional information.

Sc. 2463 - Fleetwood FDC

Sc. 2463 - Fleetwood FDC

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All text Copyright © 2000, William M. Senkus

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Revised -- 03/22/2001