Mount Washington - Cog Railroad
The Mount Washington Cog Railway is a marvel of engineering, and the world's first mountain climbing railway.
It remains the second steepest railway in the world with a maximum grade of 37.41% (you gain 14 inches in elevation for every 3 feet you move forward)! On these super steep parts of the tracks you can stand up (or lean back) at the same angle a ski jumper has... these pictures don't do the angle justice...it is just really amazing to see, and even more amazing to attempt.
To get an idea of how steep of an angle you are actually traveling I took this picture resting my camera "level" on the window sill.
Just before halfway, there is a huge water tank that is supplied by a natural spring. Before the engines were converted from steam to biodiesel trains had to stop and take on an additional 300 gallons of water in order to make it to the top.
The train passes literally inches from the tower. Although we were all encouraged to open the windows and "hang out" to get a better view or take pictures we were also warned about having all body parts inside as we passed the water tower!
Jacob's Ladder is the steepest part of the track...
I was actually standing outside the train of the front platform for these pictures.
Although we are in the slow season where the trains typically only run to the halfway point, we were having such good weather that they took up all the way to the summit. I was really excited about this turn of events... at least until we got to the summit and saw the weather.
It was super windy and cold at the summit, but totally worth the trip.
The Appalachian Trail actually intersects with the train near the summit. We saw some hikers...
These cairns mark the trail.
There is even a little post office at the summit. I assume it is used mostly for those hiking the Appalachian Trail to receive or send letters and packages.
And just in case you thought I was exaggerating about how awful the weather was at the summit
One of those posters lists all the people who have perished on Mount Washington. A lot of hypothermia on that list. A lot of people who were hiking alone.
Mount Washington Cog also has one of the most (if not the most) complicated switches in the world. This switch was also the cause of a huge accident that killed several people on the train back in the 60s. Now the brakeman hops off and carefully supervises the train as it crosses the 9 (now automated, previously manual) switches.
This picture doesn't really do justice to exactly how deep an abyss you look into while coming down the mountain, but there is a giant valley of nothingness to look into.
It looks normal from head-on
but not so normal from the side