History of the Mount Washington Cog Railway

History of the Mount Washington Cog Railway

Continuing a Legacy of Innovation... Biodiesel locomotive designer Al LaPrade holds the flag over “M1”, the first Cog Railway biodiesel locomotive, a...

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Continuing a Legacy of Innovation...

Biodiesel locomotive designer Al LaPrade holds the flag over “M1”, the first Cog Railway biodiesel locomotive, as the Presby and Bedor families (the owners of the Cog Railway ) and then NH Governor John Lynch and his wife Doctor Susan Lynch look on.

ji The Cog built the first of 6 biodiesel locomotives, Wajo Nanatasis, in 2008.

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In 1983, Ellen Teague turned over the ownership to the Presby and Bedor Families and The Cog was in New Hampshire hands for the first time in over 100 years. 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 an environmentally-friendly biodiesel locomotive in 2008. The locomotive, 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 starting this year – including a US tour of the railway’s original Peppersass engine (which is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year) – and culminating with a public anniversary bash in the summer of 2019.

The Presby and Bedor families stand in front of the M6 biodiesel train which was completed in 2016.

For more information, contact:

Carol Fusaro [email protected] 617.512.3617

1869 - 2019

History of the Mount Washington Cog Railway Once upon a time... The Mount Washington Cog Railway, located at the base of Mount Washington in Bretton Woods, NH, is the world’s 1st mountain-climbing cog railway. It was built during the early days of the Industrial Revolution, when railroads and steam engines played a major role in the development of the US. Its inventor, Sylvester Marsh, a retired businessman and New Hampshire native determined to create something unheard of in those days, a railway that could climb safely to the top of a mountain. Today, more than 100,000 people visit The Cog for an exhilarating ride up and down Mount Washington, the tallest peak in the Northeast. The Cog was registered as a National Historic Engineering Landmark in 1976.

It all began with an ill-fated climb... It all started in 1857 during a hike up Mount Washington, when Sylvester Marsh and a companion were lost in a storm and nearly perished. Marsh was determined to find a way to bring visitors safely to the top and back of Mount Washington. He knew that a conventional train would never be able to climb three miles up Mount Washington to the summit; it would take a special type of railway. Marsh experimented with several small models he built himself, and finally decided upon the use of a gear, or cog, and a special central cog rail – a technology that would enable a train to climb much steeper grades than those possible with a conventional railroad. Some of the earliest locomotives that were built to transport coal from mines used central or outer cog rails for propulsion, but no one had ever attempted to build a cog locomotive that could climb a mountain and back down.

Peppersass at the Annual League of NH Craftsmen’s Fair.

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Sylvester Marsh, Inventor of the Mount Washington Cog Railway

ji The Cog was registered in 1976 as a National Historic Engineering Landmark.

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Cog Wheel

Marsh’s scale model of his proposed cog train. Courtesy of the New Hampshire Historical Society.

For more information, contact:

T HE C OG.COM

Carol Fusaro [email protected] 617.512.3617

“A Railway to the Moon...”

Sylvester Marsh with some of the railroad executives that invested in The Cog Railway.

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A “Hero” is born

The Railway to the Moon begins...

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Ulysses S. Grant was the first president to ride The Cog in 1869.

For more information, contact:

Carol Fusaro [email protected] 617.512.3617

Marsh’s first prototype was a steam-powered model engine pushing a 50-pound weight up 8 feet of track inclined at the same grade as Mount Washington. In 1858, Marsh applied for a state charter to operate an incline railway up Mt. Washington. When he presented his model, he met with resistance and skepticism from state legislators and railroad officials who didn’t think it was feasible. They ridiculed him, naming his idea, the Railway to the Moon. Thinking it would never happen, they granted his request. Marsh then set out to prove them wrong.

While Marsh was busy working out the technical details of his plan, he was also trying to solicit investors. It wasn’t until after the end of the Civil War in 1865 that he finally attracted some interest. Marsh needed to prove that his technology would work, and started developing a test track. The task was not an easy one – 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. Simultaneously, a locomotive was being built to Marsh’s specifications. In 1866, he invited his investors to see a demonstration of his cog railway. Marsh called his locomotive Hero, but it was soon nicknamed Peppersass (pronounced Pepper-sass) because of its upright peppersauce bottle shape. Due to the success of the demonstration, Marsh received financial backing for the railway construction from the Boston, Concord, and Montreal railroad and other prominent railroads. Peppersass was then used to transport the materials needed to build the track. The steepest part of the track, called Jacob’s Ladder, was built in 1868. The following year, on July 3, 1869, the Mount Washington Cog Railway officially opened to the public, becoming the first cogdriven train to climb 6,288-foot Mount Washington. Less than two months earlier, another railroad industry milestone had occurred – the driving of the golden spike in Utah to celebrate the opening of the first transcontinental railroad in the U.S. Later that summer, President Ulysses S. Grant rode on The Cog and was the first U.S. President to visit Mount Washington.

Changing of the Guard After Sylvester Marsh passed away, the Mount Washington Railway was owned and supervised by the Boston and Maine Railroad for 35 years. In 1931, they sold the railway to Henry Teague, a shrewd businessman who began marketing the railway to day trippers and weekend tourists. He developed the area at the base of the railway to include a restaurant, a gift shop and overnight cabins, hiring students from Dartmouth College, among others, to provide seasonal help. In 1937, Teague erected a building on the summit for the new Mount Washington Observatory. Teague sustained and developed his cog railway as one of the world’s most fascinating tourist attractions, putting The Cog on the map. One of the people that assisted Henry Teague in maintaining the railway was a mechanical engineer with the same name – but no direct relation – Arthur S. Teague. Arthur Teague started working at The Cog in 1933, and because of his technical ability and management skills, ultimately becoming vice president and general manager. Arthur was responsible for a number of improvements to engines, passenger cars and plant equipment, and the track switches. On September 21, 1938, the worst hurricane in the region’s history destroyed Jacob‘s Ladder and half mile of trestle. The cost to rebuild it was so great that Henry Teague borrowed the money from his alma mater, Dartmouth College. In gratitude, he left The Cog and all of its property to Dartmouth College when he passed away in 1951. Arthur Teague remained as the General Manager, eventually purchasing the railway from Dartmouth in 1962. Not included in the sales agreement was all of the railway’s summit property, including the Summit House and the Tip Top House (1853–present), the only original stone summit building still standing today. Two years later, the property was sold to the State of New Hampshire to become a state park, with a right-of-way for The Cog. In 1967, Arthur Teague died suddenly, and the ownership of The Cog then went to his wife, Ellen C. Teague, who became the world’s first female railroad president. One of her most notable accomplishments was securing exemption for all steam locomotives in the State of New Hampshire from the air pollution act in 1972. During her tenure, a new steam locomotive was built on site for the first time.

The Railway to the Moon became the first successful mountain-climbing cog railway and is still considered one of the greatest engineering wonders of all time.

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Colonel Henry Teague, owner of the Cog from 1931–1951

Arthur S. Teague, owner of the Cog from 1962–1967

The Tip Top House was built on the summit of Mount Washington in 1853 and is still standing today and is operating as a new museum.

For more information, contact:

T HE C OG.COM

Carol Fusaro [email protected] 617.512.3617