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Mount Washington Cog Railway – USA

Mount Washington Cog Railway, USA

The Mountain Cog Railway was the world’s first mountain-climbing cog railway, a tiny toy-train like vehicle climbing Mount Washington in the US state of New Hampshire. More than 150 years since its conception, it’s still the only one of its kind operating in North America, and passengers can ride the route from Marshfield Base Station to the summit of Mount Washington.

Sitting at 6,288 ft, the summit offers fantastic views of the sprawling Presidential Range, and visitors can visit the historic Tip Top House, an original summit hotel dating back to 1853. Other highlights of the journey include the upper Ammonoosuc Falls, a rocky cascade and popular swimming destination, and the chance to spot wildlife like moose and brown bears. You’ll soon see why showman P.T. Barnum (AKA the Greatest Showman) once called this railway ‘The Second Greatest Show on Earth’.

Prices from: US $42
Departing from: Marshfield Base Station, New Hampshire 
Journey length: 3 hours

mount washington cog railway train
One of the trains in service

Mount Washington Cog Railway route

The total journey time on the Mount Washington Cog Railway is around three hours, round-trip from the base to the summit. Depending on train, the journey time can slightly differ, with biodiesel powered trains climbing the summit in just 40 minutes, while the steam engines have to stop to take on water mid-journey. Once at the summit passengers are free to explore the observation deck, Tip Top House and weather museum for one hour, before the train heads back down the mountain to the Marshfield Base Station. While the summit journey is only available in summer and autumn, a special winter journey is also at a reduced rate. The journey terminates at available to Waumbek Station, located in an alpine meadow at 4,000ft with stunning views.

Mount Washington Cog Railway train

The Mount Washington Cog Railway is truly adorable, reminiscent of a toy train with brightly coloured exteriors, a locomotive and one single carriage. A nod to its steam heritage, some trains operate with centuries-old, coal-fired steam engines and passengers should dress accordingly (dark clothing). There are no restrooms on the train, but passengers can use facilities at both the base and summit stations.

What we love

Riding this train feels almost feels like you’re at a theme park, or that you’ve stepped back in time to a Victorian tourist attraction. Quirky journey aside, the views of the summit are pretty spectacular – and you can even choose to hike down instead of taking the train. 

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