If there is a prime time to embark on a scenic railroad ride in New England mountain country, then fall is that time. Enthusiasts have plenty of options to choose from, too, as scenic operators have tapped into the rich history of railroading in the region to offer an experience for riders that emphasizes the history, tradition and beauty of a simpler time.
Mount Washington Cog Railway
Fondly known as “The Cog,” the world’s first rack-and-pinion mountain-climbing train officially opened to the public in 1869 and has been chug-chugging its way up and down the Northeast’s highest peak ever since. It remains one of New England’s most beloved mountain adventures, steeped both in nostalgia and in elevation. Its average grade above 25 percent makes it the second steepest rack railway in the world today.
Scenic train rides aboard the Cog take about an hour to the summit and an hour back to the base station with an hour in between for guests to explore the views from the top, including the Sherman Adams Visitor Center. Guests will be rewarded with 360-degree views into five states, Canada and the Atlantic Ocean — depending on weather and visibility, of course. Trips depart daily from April through November. Reservations are held only until 15 minutes before departure, so be sure to get there in advance.
Visitors also should be sure to check out the free Cog Railway Museum that features historic displays and interactive exhibits. Also here, the Emmy Award-winning documentary “Climbing to the Clouds” is shown.