Tour: A Winter Cog Experience
By: Emily McMaster, GSA Operations and Communications Director
This month, a group of GSAs had the pleasure of experiencing a ride on Mount Washington Cog Railway. Driving up 93, we were excited to see clear blue skies, accompanied by mild winter temperatures. Once we headed into the Notch, however, the skies changed to low-hanging clouds. When we arrived at Mount Washington, the cloud cover had increased, but we knew we would still have an amazing time because…it’s always sunny in NH when GSAs are around!
We gathered in the gift shop area, where there are plenty of Mount Washington and Cog items for sale. This is located in the basement, and upstairs there are snacks and a museum about the history of the Cog. There is a sign that states that the Cog is the oldest Cog railway in the world – Europe’s first Cog railway was in 1871, and the Mount Washington Cog Railway was created in 1869.
Our train left at 11:30 on the dot, and we had the opportunity to ride in their newest car, a bright pink car that celebrates breast cancer awareness. The train was very comfortable, despite the door in the front of the car remaining open. The new design of the train incorporates larger viewing windows, so it was easy to watch the train ascending the tracks and look out at the trees. The trees were all coated in ice, which made for an even more picturesque ride. Our guide gave a great informational overview of the Cog experience, the new train, and how the Cog operates. We also passed by the moose who watches over the train tracks.
At the top, those of us who had participated in last year’s Cog trip were blown away by the new Waumbek Station! The station now consists of several different levels of viewing platforms, so you can get various vantage points of both the base and the summit. The station is located approximately 4000′ up the mountain. There are several warming huts, with warm beverages. There were two firepits with fires to roast s’mores. It was such a pleasant temperature that we did not really even need the warming huts (last year, it was in the single digits at the base!)
The views may not have been crystal clear, but the clouds did break from time to time, so we were able to see the summit briefly. We could also see the Marshfield Base Station, where we started, in the distance. We spent time capturing scenic pictures and enjoying time with other GSAs. Our time at the top passed by quickly, as the entire trip spans about an hour.
We disembarked at the base, where the view was opening up at the summit even more! We took our group picture and learned more about the Cog from Rob Arey, Marketing Director and our host.
Interested in participating in a trip? Learn more about the winter trip, as advertised by the Cog:
Throughout the winter, our trains terminate at our newly redesigned and expanded Waumbek Station. Located in an alpine meadow at roughly 4000’, clear conditions provide spectacular panoramic vistas from the southern Presidentials to the Canadian border. Passengers leave the train for about 25 minutes to enjoy complimentary hot refreshments, warming huts and a fire pit. Round trips to Waumbek are roughly 1 hour, at reduced fares.
Our GSAs enjoyed a wonderful experience. Hear from a few volunteers about our adventure!
“When travelers arrive at the Manchester airport and ask, “What should we do in the state?”…the answer will be the Cog is a do-not-miss adventure. Everything from the thoughtful and educational museum, to the many items in the gift shop for all ages, to the Cog ride itself, displayed an impressive and ambitious vision (that) all involved have realized. The new structures, fire pits, refreshments and, of course, the views were awesome! The info shared during the ride was very much appreciated.” ~GSA Volunteer
“I would like to express my appreciation for the Winter Cog trip today for the Granite State Ambassadors. It was wonderful to experience it first hand such that I can share the details with potential guests. Experiencing the length of the trip, the elevation, the viewing platforms, warming buildings, hot drinks, fire-pits and s’mores are all details that I feel confident sharing after having enjoyed it myself. Honestly I couldn’t get over the “crooked” trees on the side of the tracks!” ~GSA Volunteer
“What a treat to ride the Cog yesterday, with the fresh air, the views, snow-covered land; and, to cap it off with the warming huts. I am always in awe of the fact that the NH Cog is the oldest mountain climbing cog railway in the world. It certainly creates an eyebrow-raising reaction when I tell that to our NH visitors.” ~GSA Volunteer
“I have lived in NH for over 40 years and have never been on the Cog, always being slightly intimidated at the thought. But after yesterday, I have no hesitation to do it again – and hope to take the trip to the summit. Wow, what an incredible experience! I learned so much about the Cog Railway and how it works, and marveled at the winter scenery as we ascended. I never knew the trees lean in toward the mountain! Having had this experience, I feel much more informed being able to describe and recommend this experience to visitors to NH (and residents!).” ~GSA Volunteer
Following our Cog experience, some of the group went to Stickney’s at the Omni Mount Washington Resort. We walked through the grand lobby, marveling at the views of the mountains in the background. Stickney’s is located in the basement, with large windows for viewing. The food was delicious, and the wait staff was attentive and friendly. It was a great way to end a spectacular day!
More pictures of our day can be found here.