The Cog Railway to the top of the World (well New Hampshire at least)!


Mt. Washington Cog Rail
Mt. Washington Cog Railway

What a journey! This is just one section of the Mt. Washington Cog Railway in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. This is the worlds first mountain climbing train which commenced operations in 1869. The train engines and tracks have been constantly updated ever since and the trains operate regardless of the weather conditions.

White Mountain Cog Railway NH Biodiesel engine
Biodiesel Cog Train
White Mountain Cog Railway NH stteam engine
Steam Engine

The cog train that you take may be a traditional steam-powered one or possibly one of the new environmentally friendly biodiesel engines. Either way you are in for a fantastic journey (the steam-powered trip takes a little longer as it has to stop along the way to take on more water).

hite Mountain Cog Railway
Passengers preparing to board. Mt. Washington can be seen in the distance
White Mountain Cog Railway New Hampshire
A fantastic journey to the top of Mt. Washington
White Mountain Cog Railway NH (5)
The rails look a bit rickety at times but they are under constant maintenance to ensure everyone’s safety
White Mountain Cog Railway NH
Fantastic scenery is just part of the experience
White Mountain Cog Railway NH (8)
Steep but progress on the train is steady
White Mountain Cog Railway New Hampshire USA
There is plenty of time to enjoy the view as you make your way to the summit
White Mountain Cog Railway NH White Mountains
Great views abound as you approach the summit

3 mile / 4.8 kilometre railway line winds its way up the mountain along the steepest track in America. The ride takes about 45 minutes. At some sections of the trip you are at about a 45 degree angle and standing up in the train carriage during these stages is a very weird experience indeed. Even the trees seem to be growing at strange angles!

trees at an angle on mt Washington New Hampshire
Are they growing at an angle or perfectly straight? All depends on your perspective I think

As you approach the summit you will notice the temperature start to drip. At the peak is the Sherman Adams building. This is a visitors centre, museum, restaurant, gift shop and observatory which is part of the Mt. Washington State Park.

Sherman Adams building  Mt Washington State Park
Sherman Adams building
Mt Washington State Park NH USA
A great journey up to the state park

The 6,288 foot / 1,916 metre summit of Mt. Washington makes it the highest mountain in New England. It forms part of the 12 mile / 19 kilometre long Presidential Range of mountains which are predominately named after US Presidents along with significant politicians and leading dignitaries including Mt. Madison, Mt. Jefferson, Mt. Monroe, Mt. Eisenhower, Mt. (John) Adams and Mt. John Quincy Adams.

The highest point of Mt. Washington New Hampshire
The highest point of Mt. Washington
Presidential Range White Mountains NH
Presidential Range
Northern peaks of the Presidential Range New Hampshire
Northern peaks of the Presidential Range

On a clear day the views from the peak are spectacular and on the day of my visit I was very lucky. Mt. Washington is known as a place with “the worst weather in the world” and holds a world record wind speed for a surface station of 231 mph / 372 kph which was recorded in 1934! The wind speed was actually higher than that but unfortunately the device recording it was torn off and swept away in the wind! I can only imagine what it must be like in the middle of winter? Brutal I bet!

Mt. Washington weather station
Mt. Washington weather station

Now it wasn’t quite that windy on my visit but it was still blowing quite a gale. At the highest point of the mountain the wind was so strong I could not actually stand without losing my balance, so I had to hold onto the sign for stability! Standing there and taking in the view is quite a challenge!

Mt Washington NH summit windy
Windy? Just a tad!

You can drive to the summit from the other side of Mt. Washington but it’s not really the same is it? Another option to get up there is to hike the Appalachian trail as it goes over Mt. Washington, but that’s another journey all in itself. A summer trip through New England would not be complete without a ride on the Cog Railway. It is not the cheapest experience but I have to say the journey is a lot of fun and well worth it. Go on take the train you wont regret that decision.


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