Last summer we were in the White Mountains in New Hampshire and although we saw a lot of the area that time, we skipped one of the most famous attactions. We were back this year and this time we did take the opportunity to go for a train ride up the highest mountain in New England.
The Cog Railway to the summit of Mount Washington is an impressive example of 19th century technology and modern innovation. If you are in New England, this really is something you have to do. Don’t wait for the next time you’re there, like we did. It’s magnificent. The trains take you on a climb to the highest mountain (6,288 feet) in the Northeast and through magnificent mountain landscapes and nature.
The railway is also steeped in history. It was the first mountain-climbing cog railway in the world. The building started in 1866, with the first excursion to the top in 1869. Sylvester Marsh of Littleton, NH, designed and built the now famous Cog Railway. Several years before the opening, Marsh climbed Mount Washington with a friend and was caught in a storm that forced them to spend the night on the mountain. They almost perished in the cold. Afterwards Marsh invented a mountain-climbing train so everyone could get to the summit in comfort and safety.
Laughed at and scorned by the New Hampshire Legislature, he was reluctantly allowed to build his “Railway to the Moon”. The Mount Washington Cog Railway was later designated a National Historic Engineering Landmark.
It is a great mountain for hiking too. However, it still is a dangerous mountain because of the notoriously unpredictable weather. Mount Washington holds the world record for highest surface wind speed recorded by man, at 372km/h.