The Cog, also known as the Mount Washington Cog Railway, is the world’s first mountain-climbing cog railway (rack-and-pinion railway). With an average grade of 25% (some sections approach nearly 38%), it’s also the second steepest in the world! The railway was built by Sylvester Marsh who was raised in Campton, New Hampshire. The idea for building a railway up Mount Washington was thought of by Marsh in 1852 after he completed the strenuous hike up to the 6,288-foot summit.
Sylvester Marsh was thought of by nearly everyone as being insane for wanting to create a railway up the tallest mountain in New Hampshire. Marsh went to the state legislature to pass his idea and they voted in favor of the railway because it was deemed impossible and a nonissue. Despite many not believing in the project, Marsh was resilient and in 1858 he obtained a charter for the road on which he would start building. Marsh was economically involved in the project as he put up $5,000 of his own money and fundraiser from anyone who would listen.
The railway was officially completed and opened to the public in July of 1869. The early locomotives used unique vertical boilers and twin trunnions which were able to pivot as the locomotive and coach climbed the grade. This way, the boilers were always vertically oriented. President Ulysses S. Grant traveled to New England in August 1869 to escape the summer heat in Washington, D.C. He rode the cog railway to the summit of Mount Washington during his trip to the Granite State.
The railway is still operational today with two steam locomotives and one biodiesel locomotive. The steam locomotives include MW2 (Ammonoosuc), built in 1875, and MW9 (Waumbek), built in 1908. Both steam locomotives have been updated countless times over the years to be extremely safe and delivering a smooth ride. In 2008, after 139 years of steam locomotives being used, a biodiesel locomotive made its debut on the railway. The diesel powered locomotive was designed by two experts and was completed on-site by the Cog’s shop crew at a cost of $750,000.
Trips on the railway today range from 1-3 hours and can be booked via https://thecog.showare.com/