Mount Washington Cog Railway


Sylvester Marsh came up with the idea for the Mount Washington Cog Railway in 1857, after hiking up the mountain during an awful storm. Having already received patents that helped him earn a fortune in meat packing and grain shipping, Marsh, now retired, proceeded to patent a steam locomotive that could climb a grade as steep as 37.41% by gripping an open-rung cog rail. His wind-up model was met with laughter by the NH legislature, who nonetheless granted him right-of-way to the summit, and, on July 3, 1869, the world's first mountain-climbing cog railway was completed. In 1976, it was designated a National Historic Engineering Landmark.

Activity Details

Activity Type:Trips and Destinations
Discipline:Civil, Mechanical
Topic(s):Space/Transportation
Grade:K-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12
Time:Full day

Fun Fact:During the railway's construction, workers devised a clever way to come back down the mountain: They slid along the track on "Devil's Shingles," or slideboards, which were wooden planks about 3' long and 10" wide, fitted with handles and hand-forged iron braking plates. The record time for making the 3-mi.-long descent was 2 min., 45 sec.!