After writing the post on the Mount Washington Auto Road, I realized that I hadn’t yet written about the other attraction on New England’s highest mountain. The Mount Washington Cog Railway ascends the mountain on its other side and makes for one of the greatest railroad journeys in North America—truly.
Mount Washington Cog Railway – The Oldest Cog Railway in the World
Yep, that’s right. The Mount Washington Cog Railway is, in fact, the world’s first railroad of its kind. The first customers started going up the mountain in 1868, even before the railway had reached the summit. That happened one year later, in 1869.
With an average grade of steepness of 25%, the Cog, as it is affectionately called, is also the second-steepest railway in the world. This steepness makes it not the fastest, though, but that’s part of the sublime beauty of the journey. On the way up, the train travels at a speed of no more than 2.8 miles per hour (4.5 kilometers per hour); the way down is a bit faster, at 4.6 miles per hour (7.4 kilometers per hour. The ascent takes approximately 65 minutes while the descent takes only 40 minutes. The entire roundtrip to Mount Washington’s summit and back down is about three hours long—visitors have about an hour to explore the summit area.
The train itself is an attraction in its own right; a vintage-looking coach pulled by either an historic steam locomotive or the more modern and way more ecofriendly biodiesel locomotives. Trains travel to the summit and back from late April through November.
A journey to the summit in November through a snow-carpeted mountain landscape is surely to be remembered. Then again, the journey is equally is beautiful in the green summer landscape. Fall, however, may just be the most spectacular time of year, the forested valleys painted in the warmest of colors.
A journey on the Mount Washington Cog Railway is absolutely recommended, but it has to be said that it’s not cheap. Tickets for adults cost $68. As this is a hugely popular thing to do in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, travelers are still advised to purchase their tickets beforehand.
If you plan on staying longer to explore the surrounding areas, there are plenty of accommodation options in Bretton Woods.