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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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I Think I Can: 1906

I Think I Can: 1906

Circa 1906. "Engine, Mount Washington Railway, White Mountains, New Hampshire." The little engine that could also serve as a portable pizza oven. 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

Fond memories of a trip up Mt. Washington

The summer I was 13 I rode the cog railway up Mt. Washington with my parents and brother. On the way up my brother & I stood in the aisle of the car and found ourselves leaning forward at such a steep angle I thought I'd pitch forward on my face. We also visited the famous flume. What great fun! I loved New Hampshire.

Thanks for the memories, Dave.


Thanks to everyone for your input. This is why I consider Shorpy such an education in so many areas.

One of the neatest trips in North America

I am lucky to have been able to take this trip three times. All with steam power. One one trip; we hiked to the Lake of the Clouds Hut, and back. Awesome views. My last trip, we saw snow at the summit in late July. The TV station was still broadcasting when I was there. The weather guys up there were fascinating. Everybody should do this once if you can.

Kilroy was here?

I wanted to see Kilroy so bad that I ran my computer up to 400+ on the zoom and still couldn't find him. Oh well, I love this cog railroad and it is definitely bucket list worthy.

Dave, thanks for the location pic and I don't know how I missed this guy.

Leaning Into the Wind

These cog railway locos have slanted boilers because when they are climbing the hill, they want to boiler level to prevent "priming", that is, water getting into the steam pipes (very bad). The Pikes Peak locomotives were similarly slanted.

[In other words, the boiler is level when the engine is ascending or descending the grade. Note that the passenger car stays on the uphill side and that the loco always faces "up," with descents made in reverse. - Dave]

Not On the Level!

The reason the locomotive boiler is on a 'slant' in regards to the frame and cylinders is that when the locomotive is working and climbing on the way to the summit, the water and firebox within will be more or less horizontal on the grade.

The large dome accumulated steam well above the level of the water.

As wood was the fuel, a long smokestack with a large opening at the top which is covered with a screen was applied to catch sparks and help prevent fires along the right of way.

The screen has a latch so it could be opened.

Wood is easy to fire, burns clean, and leaves little ash.

Coal has more heat value by weight, and was used in later years.

Unlike most of the other locomotives featured on Shorpy, this one does not need sand for traction nor has piping or a sand dome for sand application.

The spoked locomotive wheels riding on the rails are not powered, the movement supplied by large pinion gears driven by the four external steam engines, the gears' teeth mesh with the teeth on the horizontal rack between the running rails.

The teeth of one of the 'cogs' or pinion gears can be seen above the front spoked wheel and frame.

There appears to be a band-type friction brake below the front coupler operated from the cab by the long reach rod and lever.

The operating handle for an injector to put water into the boiler can be seen inside the cab side window.

Thank You.

That bend?

T'was like that when we took it out dis mornin'. Honest.


That's probably his first appearance, behind the tender.

Railway to the Moon

This engine served on the cog railway that still ascends to the 6,288 ft summit of Mt. Washington. It is the oldest rack-and-pinion rail system in the world (1869). Before construction, the project was derided as a pie-in-the-sky "Railway to the Moon." So it truly was the little engine that could!
The numeral 1 on the engine identifies it as the rebuilt "Mt. Washington," originally named "Falcon." Incredibly, it's still sitting in storage in the shops at the rail yard at the foot of the mountain.

Train quesiton

Proving I know very little about trains. Is it supposed to be stuck up in the air that way?

New Hampshire's Cog Railway

"The Cog" as it's known has been (during the summer) delivering passengers (mostly tourists) to the summit of Mount Washington since July 3rd 1869. Soot spewing coal fired boilers have been largely replaced with cleaner diesel units, although coal is still used on some early morning ascents. The boilers are canted as in this photo so that they'll be level during the steep ascent and descent.

[You'll note that this engine is not coal-fired. - Dave]
[I did notice that Dave. However, coal has been the railroad's solid fuel choice for a number of decades. - Mal]

The weather on top of the summit can be among the most severe in the country and is where the world's record wind speed of 231 MPH was recorded. Hence the mountain's timberline is at only 4,000 feet.

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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