Mt. Washington Cog Railway to Build Summit Hotel

Author: Ralph Spielman

Tags : Couples, Eco-Tourism, Flee Market, Kids, Multigen, New Hampshire, North America, USA, Vacation Packages, Weekend & Short Break

At age 147, the only cog railway in America east of the Rocky Mountains is getting a makeover.

When it opened a few decades after the first railroads did, one of the most interesting technological innovations in America was The Mount Washington Cog Railway, which exists to ride today.

While the little steam engines of yesteryear have been largely replaced by bio-fueled diesels that run up and down the mountain, the operation itself exists largely as it had when opened in 1869. Utilizing a rack and pinion system of gearing, climbing the mountain is an everyday feat, despite the steep pitch of up to 1 foot every three feet.

A few years after opening the line to the top of Mt. Washington at 6,288 feet, a hotel, The Summit House, was opened to enable guests to stay overnight in the midst of New Hampshire’s White Mountains. Visitors, who came to take in the brisk mountain air and endless vista of The Presidential Range and surroundings, were able to view the Atlantic Ocean on clear days.

The Summit House went through many changes during its first 140 years: it burned down in 1908; the smaller replacement hotel that took its place was torn down; and two subsequent Visitor's Centers did not provide any hotel-like accommodations. Today, the nearby Appalachian Mountain Club and Mt. Washington Observatory offer bunk room style accommodations, although not to the general public.

Fortunately for fans of history, trains and hiking, with 300,000 yearly Cog Railway riders, demand for a special place to stay at the summit of Mt. Washington has risen.

To meet that need, a new facility has been proposed that would be built a mile from the top of the cog railway, which would enable trains to pass through the new hotel and unload in any weather, keeping patrons dry and comfortable as they enter the new facility.  Engineered for the extremes of Mt. Washington weather, the new hotel plans to offer 35 rooms, a full service restaurant, and other non-rustic conveniences.

The Cog Railway would like to open the new hotel on July 3, 2019, the Cog Railway's Sesquicentennial. For updates on the construction when the Cog Railway reopens or the season in April 2017, please refer to

Note! This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question, and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.