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Joe McQuaid's Publisher's Notebook: 'Cog Days' of summer on Mt. Washington

June 25. 2017 8:09PM


“Writing it was about 40 percent of the work,” my friend and publisher, George Geers, told me one day last week as he presented me with the first copy of “Cog Days, A Boy’s Life and One Tragic Summer on Mt. Washington.”

Silly me, I thought writing a story about my summer job a half-century ago on the Mt. Washington Cog Railway was 110 percent of the work. It sure felt like it at times.

Now, I figured, it was just a matter of sitting back and signing a few copies for my adoring public. Later, of course, it would be negotiating the movie rights and figuring out if Brad Pitt or George Clooney, or perhaps Ryan Gosling, would be best in the title role.

Nope, said George. The author has to promote his work. He has to be prepared to speak at various places and venues. He has to drum up reader interest, be available for interviews. It could be days, nights, or weekends.

Weekends? Whoa. That’s when golf is played. Nobody said anything about weekends.

Suddenly, this book business wasn’t sounding so swell. But, in for a penny, in for a pound, I guess. Perhaps I could give readings while putting?

Seriously, this small book has been a labor of love. I wrote it in part to give some recognition to a man whose story is the stuff of legend but who is hardly remembered these days.

Col. Arthur S. Teague began working at the Cog in the 1930s as a college student, improvising and improving it while tenaciously preserving its history and its little steam locomotives (some of them made in the Manchester millyard).

World War II came along and took Teague away, putting him into the 4th Infantry Division at Utah Beach on D-Day 1944. He became one of the most decorated of American soldiers, called by his commanding general, “the bravest man in the United States Army.”

He couldn’t wait to get back to the peace and beauty of the White Mountains.

I was lucky enough to work at the Cog for Col. Teague. To this day, the woman of the house wonders how on earth I was allowed to run a steam engine.

It was a dream job for a teenager.

But the dream turned bad my last summer, which is also part of the book.

“Cog Days” will be in select New Hampshire book stores this summer. If you can’t wait (who could?), you can order it online at

Write to Joe McQuaid at or on Twitter @deucecrew.

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