Brrr and a Fabulous Ride on the Cog Railway

There was much excitement this past Friday.  The day had finally arrived for the fourth grade to head to Mt Washington and ride the Cog Railway.  Each year there is a contest where the class produces a tourist video with the first prize being a free trip on the Railway.  We didn’t think we’d win as our teacher won last year but lo and behold the kids won!  And it wasn’t an understatement to say the parents had to be quick off the mark to get in as a chaperone.  I got my form in immediately.  :)

Fortunately the mountain was far enough that we could ride a coach bus rather than a school bus.  Much nicer.  Here is the approach to the mountain from inside the bus.

Mt Washington 1 2014

Mt Washington is the highest peak in the northeast at 6288 ft.  At home the temperature was a high of 71F/22C while the high at the summit was forecast to be 38F/3C with a wind chill of 16F/-9C.  Winds were predicted to be 55-65 mph with gusts up to 75 mph.  If it gets to 80 mph the trains stop running.  We dug out our winter wear for the trip.  So glad we did!

Mt Washington 2 2014 Mt Washington 3 2014

The engines were from John Deere and run on bio diesel.  They do have a steam train but that only runs first thing in the morning. I was disappointed as I love steam trains.  This is the first and oldest running cog railway that opened in 1869.  The state government thought it was a joke but approved it because they didn’t have to provide funds.  Joke was on them as it was hugely popular.

Mt Washington 4 2014

If you look closely you can see the rails going up the mountain.  The first coach was open air with benches bolted into the base.  Halfway up they would stop and pass out blankets and warm drinks for the rest of the ride.

Mt Washington 5 2014

They would even bring up skiers  to ski down the side of the rails.  It would be black snow because of the coal.

Mt Washington 6 2014

This 1000 gallon water tank is spring fed and no electricity or power is required.  The water is also 99.9% pure.  The steam train only has a 700 gallon capacity but needs 1000 gallons of water to get to the top so it will stop here and top up.

Mt Washington 7 2014

The setup is quite something and it is very steep.  They encourage the passengers to stand in the aisle and try to stay upright.  The kids had a blast with this bit.

Mt Washington 9 2014

Jacob’s Ladder is the steepest bit at 37.41% and it is 30 feet off the surface.

Mt Washington 8 2014

The views on the way up were spectacular.  In the olden days the top was quite busy.  They had a newspaper that would publish everyday and would be sent down the railway and they also had a hotel up there that would charge $2.50 a night which was a lot of money.

Mt Washington 10 2014

People do love to hike up this mountain and there are cairns dotting the trails every 50 feet or so to guide the hikers.

Mt Washington 17 2014

My son and I had to hold on tight with the gusting winds.  It was very hard to keep our footing on the rocks.  I couldn’t believe it but there was someone up there in shorts!  No surprise she was complaining about the cold.  Honestly.

Mt Washington 11 2014

This is one of the buildings that would house visitors and feed them.  This doesn’t have to be chained down as it is made out of stone but anything wood has to be chained.

Mt Washington 12 2014

This is the building that recorded the record wind speed, notice the chains.

Mt Washington 15 2014

This is an anemometer that measures wind speed.  They time the clicks to determine the speed.  This one was the actual one that recorded the record on 12 April 1934.  At one point the speed dropped and they realised the instruments were icing up so one of them had to climb up a wooden ladder in winds going about 160mph and whack it with a wooden bat.  People listening in on the radio heard the clicks going faster and faster until it hit the record.  Must have been something!

Mt Washington 14 2014 Mt Washington 16 2014

A better view of the railway as we descended.  My son and I had a blast, what an adventure!  It was nice to get back to the warmth though.  :)

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