Thompson and Meserve's Purchase, New Hampshire

The Mount Washington Cog Railway, situated on the majestic Mount Washington in New Hampshire, holds a place of honor as one of the most iconic sights in NH.

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About This Location

The Mount Washington Cog Railway, situated on the majestic Mount Washington in New Hampshire, holds a place of honor as one of the most iconic sights in the state. This remarkable railway lays claim to a world-first achievement as the inaugural mountain-climbing cog railway, a distinction it earned upon its opening in 1868. Nestled within the towns of Thompson and Meserve's Purchase, New Hampshire, this historic railway has been a source of fascination and adventure for generations of visitors.

The visionary behind the Mount Washington Cog Railway was Sylvester Marsh, a native of Campton, New Hampshire, whose passion for hiking and exploration led him to conceive the concept of a mountain-climbing railway while ascending Mount Washington in 1852. Marsh's audacious proposal to construct a railway up the towering Mount Washington was met with skepticism, and some even declared him "crazy." Given that Mount Washington stands as the tallest peak in the Northeastern United States, reaching a towering height of 6,288 feet, it was no small endeavor. However, Marsh persisted in his vision and successfully obtained the necessary charter to proceed with his ambitious project.

Construction of the railway was initially postponed due to the American Civil War, and it wasn't until 1866 that Sylvester Marsh secured the funding required to launch the construction of the Mount Washington Cog Railway. To realize his dream, Marsh established the Mount Washington Railway Company and initiated construction in 1866. The route he selected closely followed the path blazed by Ethan Allen Crawford in 1819, marking the first known trail to the summit of Mount Washington.

The Mount Washington Cog Railway welcomed its first paying passengers on August 14, 1868, and initially, the steam locomotives came tantalizingly close to reaching the summit. It wasn't until July of 1869 that the necessary additions were completed, allowing the railway to achieve the remarkable feat of taking passengers all the way to the summit. The Cog railway garnered worldwide attention in 1869 when President Ulysses S. Grant experienced the breathtaking journey to the mountain's pinnacle. President Grant was so captivated by the railway and the awe-inspiring views from Mount Washington that he declared, "Man looks so small against the universe."

Following Sylvester Marsh's passing in 1884, the operation of the Cog railway transitioned to the Concord and Montreal Railroad Company and later to the Boston and Maine Railroad Company (B&M). Over the years, the railway underwent numerous changes in ownership and witnessed countless improvements to its infrastructure and locomotives.

A ride on the Mount Washington Cog Railway is an essential experience for both New Hampshire residents and visitors alike. With over 150 years of operation, millions of passengers have made the journey to the summit. Today, visitors can conveniently reserve their tickets online or purchase them on-site at the station. Online adult admission is priced at $63.00 and children's admission is $46.00. Learn more at

Visitors to the Mount Washington Cog Railway will find ample free parking available at the end of Base Station Road, where the cog railway embarks on its journey up the mountain. Parking is provided at no charge, ensuring easy access to this remarkable adventure in the heart of New Hampshire's natural beauty.

Location Features

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Base Station Road, Thompson and Meserve's Purchase, New Hampshire

GPS Coordinates:
44.270639, -71.350167
Directions to location:
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Directions to parking area:
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Parking Notes:
There is ample free parking at the end of Base Station Road where the cog departs up the mountain.


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