"You be thankful, Sir Handel, that we're not on a mountain railway."
"A mountain railway! What's that?"
"A railway that climbs mountains, of course."
-Rheneas and Sir Handel arguing about mountain railways
Mountain Engines is the nineteenth book of the Railway Series.
Mr. Walter Richards, the Manager, does not have an easy time. There are seven engines, one of whom, No.5, is still away being mended. Another, No. 6, was named Lord Harry. This was a mistake. It made him conceited and... But you must read the stories for yourselves.
I hope you will enjoy this book about a different kind of railway.
Rheneas tells a grumpy Sir Handel that he should be grateful that he doesn't work on a mountain railway. Sir Handel doesn't believe such a thing exists, and an argument ensues until Donald arrives with Culdee, a queer-looking mountain engine. When Culdee wakes up, he tells the little engines about his line, and an adventure he had on the first day.
Duncan is in a bad mood, so Skarloey and Rheneas change the conversation by asking Culdee about his coaches. The conversation soon drifts to Culdee's automatic brakes, and the story of Godred, an engine who held too much faith in his automatic brakes. Even though everyone tried everything, they found nothing wrong, but Godred continued in his way. Then one day, Godred fell off the rails and was sent to the back of the shed, where he was cannibalised for his parts. Sir Handel and Duncan are scared and remain silent, but Skarloey and Rheneas don't mention the tale was made up.
Donald brings Culdee home, where he discovers that three new engines have arrived - Alaric, Eric and Lord Harry, the last of whom is loud and risk-taking. The next day, Culdee makes fun of Lord Harry's "super-heat" and Lord Harry determines to pay him out. Unluckily, he derails at the summit, preventing Wilfred from taking his "down" train. Lord Harry is rescued and sent to the back of the Shed in disgrace.
Lord Harry is punished by having his name taken away and, after hearing Culdee's story of Godred, asks the Manager to be let out. The Manager agrees, but forbids him from pulling passenger trains, so #6 is kept taking supplies and workmen to Summit Hotel. One day, he is preparing to continue up Devil's Back, a difficult part of the line, when a message arrives about a group of injured climbers, and #6 is sent to rescue them. Despite the strong wind, #6 perseveres and the leader of the climbers asks the Manager to rename #6 after a friend who helped him when he was injured. Nowadays, #6 is known as Patrick and only takes risks when absolutely necessary.
- Sir Handel
- Lord Harry/#6/Patrick
- Mr. Walter Richards
- The Rock Climbers
- Alaric (does not speak)
- The Truck (does not speak)
- No. 5 (mentioned)
- Eric (mentioned)
- Agnes, Ruth, Lucy, Jemima and Beatrice (mentioned)
- The Thin Controller (mentioned)
- Godred MacHarold (mentioned)
- Lord Harry Barrane (mentioned)
- This is the first Railway Series book not to have any of its stories televised.
- This was the first and only appearance of the Culdee Fell Railway and its locomotives. The railway would not be mentioned in the series again until Thomas and his Friends in 2011.
- Christopher Awdry has stated that the reason there are no more books about the Culdee Fell Railway is due to the safety precautions and limited traffic - meaning no more story opportunities.
- According to an interview, one of the reasons this book didn't have any episodes based on it was because the Culdee Fell Engines were not very merchandisable because of the railway's climbing rack track, the engines' strange angled bodies and also their limited storylines.
- The story "Bad Look Out" is based on the Snowdon Mountain Railway's accident with their first engine, L.A.D.A.S.
- The Reverend acknowledged the help given by members of management and staff of the Snowdon Mountain Railway Ltd. in the preparation of this book.
- In the first illustration, Sir Handel's cab roof is white.
- Skarloey has a numberplate on the back of his cab in the third illustration of "Mountain Engine".
- In one of Culdee's flashbacks Alaric appears, but Culdee did not learn of Alaric's existence until he returned.
- Donald has Douglas' tender in the first illustration of "Danger Points".