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.
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).
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!
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.