NHPTV premieres "Climbing to Clouds on Cog"
By Edith Tucker
Coös County Democrat
BRETTON WOODS - "My husband, Joel, and I are like kids waiting for Christmas!" explained Cathy Bedor, one of four Mount Washington Cog Railway co-owners a few days before the recently completed documentary, "Climbing to the Clouds on the Cog," was to be shown on Saturday night, May 16, in the Grand Ballroom of the Omni Mount Washington Hotel.
Wayne and Sue Presby, the other Cog co-owning couple, couldn't wait and viewed the made-for-TV film on Friday evening with the Cog "family," that includes lots of employees, past and present.
In a public-private partnership typical of the Granite State, New Hampshire Public Television (NHPTV) partnered with the Cog co-owners to make the documentary.
Its producer and videographer Steve Giordani, who is now an award-winning professional, was once a Cog engineer, giving him a special affinity for the topic.
Early on Saturday afternoon Gov. Maggie Hassan joined the celebratory day by taking her first ride in the Mount Washington Cog Railway up to the 6,288-foot summit, including standing in the aisle to experience the steep climb up Jacob's Ladder in the No. 2 passenger car, pushed up the mountain by the white-painted No. 5 biodiesel-powered locomotive "Metallak."
Hassan admired the Sherman Adams Building in Mt. Washington State Park and toured the Mt. Washington Observatory and dropped into its EXTREME museum, for which she had cut the ribbon on June 13, 2014, but had to wield the scissors inside the Stage Building at the Mt. Washington Auto Road due to an icy road surface. Hassan had to head to Portsmouth, missing the film.
The passengers in this and other Cog trains who are contributors to the nonprofit NHPTV not only had signed up to ride the Cog and tour the SAB, but also to have dinner in the Grande Dame's ballroom and to see the documentary. Hassan was unable to stay for dinner; she was due in Portsmouth.
The audience saw a somewhat longer version of the documentary that will be shown first on NHPTV Prime at 8 p.m. on Friday. The film traces the Cog's history, starting with Sylvester Marsh, an inventive and visionary N. H. native who made a fortune in Chicago manufacturing grain-drying equipment and later retired to the Granite State. Inspired by the grandeur of Mount Washington and a desire to allow other leisured travelers to enjoy its natural beauty, Marsh began building the Cog in 1866, following the end of the Civil War.
On July 3, 1869, "Old Peppersass," now on display on the lawn next to Marshfield Station, became the world's first cog-driven train to reach a mountain summit.
"'The Mt. Washington Cog Railway: Climbing to the Clouds' is the story of years of adversity, persistence and success," said NHPTV CEO and general manager Peter Frid, when he welcomed the after-dinner audience.
Others whose voices are heard or faces are seen in the documentary were on hand included: narrator Willem Lange of "Windows to the Wild," Richard Joslin, great grandson of Sylvester Marsh; inventive mechanical engineer Al Laprade; former White Mountain Attractions executive director Dick Hamilton; new general manager Gareth Slattery; marketing director Cathy Bedor; Cog Shop supervisor Rob Maclay, head mechanic Joe Orlando, and David Mooney, track supervisor. Former general manager Charley Kenison, Obs spokesman Peter Crane, brakeman Lucien Belleau, former WMCC president Kathy Eneguess were not on hand.
Cog co-owners Wayne and Sue Presby, plus Joel Bedor, participated on Saturday night in an after-film Q & A with the audience.
Cog president Wayne Presby said that he and Bedor, who have worked together as Cog co-owners for 33 years, have a surprisingly compatible working relationship, pointing out that his own "irrational exuberance" is a good counterbalance to Bedor's financial "conservatism."
Presby also praised his innovative and hard-working "Dream Team," who worked to position the Cog for the 21st century by going "green" and offering the amenities that today's sophisticated and comfort-loving travelers seek.
Cathy Bedor praised Cog assistant marketing director Becky Metcalf (email@example.com) plus NHPTV's chief content officer Dawn DeAngelis, as well as that day's additional partners: the Obs and the Omni Mount Washington Hotel.
"Working with NHPTV helped us fulfill our long-held desire to see a first-rate documentary produced," she said. "Their professionalism and understanding of how best to focus the story, using both primary source materials and conducting interviews, made all the difference."
A panel moderated by NHPTV chief content officer Dawn DeAngelis, at podium, included the documentary's producer-videographer Steve Giordani, left, Cog co-owner and marketing director Cathy Bedor, and scriptwriter Paul Lally, who directed 100 episodes of "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood."
The project took some 18 months from start to finish.
NHPTV hopes very much that Public Broadcasting Network stations around the country will choose to air the half-hour show. The somewhat longer version - a.k.a. "Conductor's Cut" - will be sold as a DVD at the Cog shop and promoted through NHPTV. Additional airdates can be found on PRIME & EXPLORE and online at nhptv.org/cog/.
Joel Bedor mentioned at dinner that he and his wife have recently bought the historic Adair Country Inn & Restaurant at 80 Guider Lane in Bethlehem. The couple is already adding two new guest bedrooms to the existing nine and likely will add more. Barry and Kimberly Hunter continue to manage the property, and talented chef Steve Wells, the menu and kitchen.