Cog Railway

About The Cog RW

Mount Washington Cog Railway History

Old Cog R.W. Engraving

His dream began in 1852 when, after becoming lost near the summit of Mount Washington, Sylvester Marsh knew that there had to be a better way for people to reach the highest mountain peak in the Northeast. Upon his return home, he immediately started working on a plan to build the world's first mountain-climbing cog railway.

Marsh, a native of Campton, New Hampshire, had made his fortune in Chicago's meat-packing industry and was considered by his contemporaries to be a creative and innovative thinker. However, upon first presenting his idea to members of the New Hampshire Legislature, they laughed at Sylvester Marsh and said that he "might as well build a railway to the Moon."

Undaunted, Marsh began the task of building his mountain climbing railway, along with inventors Herrick and Walter Aiken, a father-and-son team from Franklin, New Hampshire. The task was not an easy one, as equipment and materials had to be hauled by oxen for 25 miles to Bretton Woods, and then another six miles through thick forest to the base of Mount Washington. But on July 3, 1869, 'Old Peppersass' became the first cog-driven train to climb 6,288-foot Mount Washington.

One Hundred and Forty Years later, The Mount Washington Cog Railway is a National Historic Engineering Landmark and part of our American heritage. Complete with vintage steam engines and replica coaches, as well as biodiesel locomotives, the Mount Washington Cog Railway is a "must do" while visiting the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

In 1983, The Presby and Bedor Families became owners of The Cog. Immediate restoration and rebuilding of the locomotives and aging track system began. By 1994, for the 125th anniversary, a new base station was built. In the 21st century, one of the biggest achievements was the development of anenvironmentally-friendly biodiesel locomotive in 2008. Thelocomotive, named Wajo Nanatasis (Native American Abenaki for "Mountain Hummingbird"), diminishes emissions and preserves fossil fuels. Over the next eight years, five more biodiesel locomotives were added. All were built by The Cog's shop crew, following a century-old tradition of building locomotives and coaches on-site by their own personnel. The Cog still runs two steam locomotives along with the six biodiesel locomotives.

What's next for the Cog?

The Presbys and Bedors are currently updating the base station, including a new interactive museum. The Cog will celebrate its 150th anniversary in 2019. To celebrate this milestone, The Cog has kicked off a program of special events and culminating with a public anniversary bash in the summer of 2019.

Cog RW History PDF

1930 Cog RW Postcard Booklet PDF file

cog whiskey decanter

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