Climbing Mt Washington
Well we sort of did this on the Mt Washington Cog Railway. The engine actually pushes the rail carriage up the mountain and then leads the rail carriage down the mountain. The two are not connected, for safety reasons. If for some reason the engine de-rails or fails and runs down the mountain the brakeman in the rail carriage can independently stop the rail carriage. All quite sensible.
So we climbed up the mountain by way of the engine and carriage ‘crawling’ up the tracks on the cogs between the rails. If you haven’t been on one of these types of trains it’s a ‘must do’ experience. Most of these types of railways are in mountainous areas so the views are great if the weather is clear. But guess what, for us there was low-level cloud, misty type rain, wind and it was super cold. Near zero.
The railway opened in 1869 and was the first mountain cog railway in the world. Some more got going in Switzerland a few years later using somewhat different mechanisms, but essentially the same principle of a cog-wheel on the engine and carriage meshing with a teeth track between the conventional rail lines. This prevents the engine and carriage slipping and ‘drags’ it up the mountain. There is one section of track where, from memory, the gradient gets to around 37 degrees. Pretty steep. Enough detail.
Mt Washington is 6,288 feet and the highest mountain in the North-east with views stretching to the Atlantic and north to Canada, we could barely see past our noses on the day! Apparently, there are on average only about 60 clear days a year up here.
So we went back down this time in a different rail carriage and saw things from a different angle! Also looking forward to returning to our warm cabin at Songo Pond after the day out and a big pot of homemade spaghetti bolognaise beside the fire.