The real purpose of visiting the White Mountains was to ride the Cog Railway. We’ve talked about doing it for years, but never got ourselves together to actually make it happen… until now. We found out that the first run each day is with a coal-fired steam engine rather than diesel. Who could pass that up? So we got up early and made our way to the base of Mount Washington.
This is the coal tender.
So the route is pretty much STRAIGHT up the mountain. The average slope is a 25% grade (the steepest portion being 37%), so the steam engine is tilted at a 25% angle to promote optimum steam production. But when it pulled up, it looked like it was broken!
Ummmm… your engine is sagging.
These are the actual cogs that the gears grab as they go up the mountain.
Yes, that’s actual coal.
On the way up, we were allowed to wander around the passenger car. There wasn’t actually far to wander – it’s just the one passenger car pushed by the steam engine. But walking down toward the back is hilarious, because it almost feels like you’re falling down the aisle, and the way back up to our seat is like walking up an incredibly steep hill.
Check out the mountains behind the engine… Beautiful!
We made it to the top just before a storm was settling in, so we got a beautiful view of the mountain range capped by storm clouds.
Obligatory summit shot.
The trip back down was a bit more subdued, mostly because it was scary. The seats turn around, so you are facing down the mountain, and they are tilted back slightly, but not nearly enough to make you feel that you don’t have to brace yourself or you’ll go sliding right off your seat and onto the seat back in front of you. The brakeman is in the front of the car working furiously to keep our weight from putting too much pressure on the engine. We all stayed seated, and breathed a sigh of relief, and a round of applause when we reached the bottom!
Here’s a diesel engine coming up as we were going down.
We all agreed that we want to ride the railway again someday, and one 14 year old young man is determined to hike up the mountain next time! We’ll see!