The Cog Railway in Mount Washington is the first rack and pinion mountain climbing railway in the world and is the second steepest with a 25% to 33% grade. The only steeper mountain climbing rack railway is in Switzerland.
|This is the way the wheel in the center of the train grips the track.|
On our one hour trip to the top, we were invited to try to stand up and walk up the aisle to take photos from the open front of the car. This was not an easy accomplishment. To everyone's relief, the ride up was less scary than we thought it might be. The tracks run in the middle of the mountain avoiding cliffs. Instead of wrapping around a mountain while slowly climbing upward like most trains, this one climbs straight up so the angle is challenging at times. Mount Washington’s weather is notoriously . In , Mount Washington experiences that essentially turn the peak into an Arctic outpost. As we rode the railway, we noticed that the trees got shorter and shorter until they were just tiny bushes, even though they were at full maturity. Then they disappeared completely. There are only rocks at the top of Mount Washington, which allows the winds to become even stronger.
Once at the summit, we were told we could stay only for one hour before our train left again. One hour was barely enough for me. We had a rare clear day at the summit. It was gorgeous!! The wind was a steady 34 miles an hour and the windchill was 46 degrees. We loved it, although the storm lover in me would have been just as happy with snow and fog. The clouds were stunning and took my breath away. We headed straight for the line to take a photograph at the summit (6,288 ft).
There were several museums on the summit. There is a U.S. Post Office at the top and we were able to mail postcards. That was very cool. We visited the Tip Top House, which was one of the first lodges at the summit, but we skipped the extreme weather museum because we didn't have enough time. We just wanted to be outside enjoying the elements and the views.
Before we knew it, our train had arrived and it was time to return to the base. What an experience of a lifetime!
Next up ~ The beaches of Maine and American Stonehenge.