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Looking Down: 1905

Dutchess County, New York, circa 1905. "Mount Beacon Incline Railway, looking down, Fishkill-on-the-Hudson." 8x10 inch glass negative. View full size.

Dutchess County, New York, circa 1905. "Mount Beacon Incline Railway, looking down, Fishkill-on-the-Hudson." 8x10 inch glass negative. View full size.


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I am illuminated

Don't miss rjc's video clip below. That answered some questions for me. I was looking for the second track and had forgotten how that could work with a counterbalance car. Also, check out the guy following the car down the mountain. It looks like he is riding a device that lets him coast down the hill on either one rail or the outside wooden one. I can't tell which one he is on.

From across the river

I was born and raised in Newburgh, just across the river from Beacon, and recall as a kid, hiking up Mount Beacon at least twice. Those excursions involved a bus ride from my house down to the ferry terminal, the ferry ride over to Beacon, and a long walk up through Beacon to the cog railway terminus at the foot of the hill, and then trudging up the mountain to the top. A long journey, but well worth every step!

I think I'm spotting a trend

I'm amazed at the popularity of incline railways at the turn of the 20th Century. Growing up in Southern California, we always heard about the long-dismantled Angel's Flight, and I just assumed it was unique. Certainly there, or in Cincinnati, it served a practical need, but I find it striking the number that were constructed for pleasure purposes, as this one clearly was. Hard to imagine such a capital investment today.


Love the outhouses!

Name Change

The former Fishkill-on-the-Hudson is Now Beacon. There is still a Fishkill, but it's a mile or so to the east.

Take a ride down Memory Lane

In this video clip.

The Secret Of Its Success

This railroad was a hit with its passengers because they were so inclined.

Gone but not forgotten.

Seems to have been completely destroyed by a fire in 1983 but there is interest in it still.

Acrophobics Anonymous

Anyone have their number?

Great place to hike

The incline railroad was active from 1902 to 1978. The land is now preserved as Mount Beacon Park. Hikers up for a strenuous workout can climb a staircase and then huff and puff up an eroded woods road to the top.

There is talk about rebuilding the railroad. For now, only the shell of the powerhouse remains. Great views are still available from the top:

The Otis

The two towns below were Matteawn and Fishkill Landing, incorporated into the city of Beacon in 1913. This was one of two great "Otis Inclines" built in the Hudson Valley by the elevator maker. The other served the Catskill Mountain House from the Palenville rail connection to the steamboat landing at Catskill.

Get your lean on!

Look how far forward that fellow in the front is leaning. Really puts the grade of incline in perspective.

Signal wires

I noted the left pair of wires suspended under the brackets on the poles. I worked in a coal mine for a while in Colorado, which was on a steep slope and had a similar inclined track, but underground. The "conductor," if you will, had a long wooden stick with a metal bar mounted across one end. He could signal the hoist operator on the surface from any point in the incline by basically shorting out the two wires above us, which rang a large gong signal in the hoistman's cab. Basic signals were one bell to stop, two to go up, three bells to go down.

[Or would he be closing the circuit rather than shorting it. - Dave]

Dave: You are correct ......

Max Elev.

Immediately brought to mind "High Tor" by Maxwell Anderson.

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