The Cog

This week's prompt is the inside of a rail car. One of my most vivid memories of train travel is a tourist train called "The Cog."

Postcard: CrazyasaCoolFox
The Cog is a train that climbs, and it does actually climb, one of the spines of the very steep Mount Washington. Washington is the northeast's tallest peak topping out at 6288 feet above sea level. It's not an easy climb both for two legged creatures and steel on steel wheels.

The Cog is named for a little extra help these engines get to climb some very steep grades. It is driven by a special cog wheel that inserts into a special track. Actually the train is driven completely by this cog wheel. The other wheels are there to simply keep the train on the track. The cog wheel also helps with braking on the way back down the mountain.

Photo: Boston Public Library: Flikr
I have ridden The Cog. It's a rather shaky and at some points downright scary ride. But the tourists keep coming. Tradition marches on when The Cog makes its first appearance for the summer on New Hampshire's blustery summit.

The Cog once ran exclusively steam trains up until a few years ago. But due to environmental concerns they have limited steam runs to just one in the morning. The rest of the excursions are powered by newer bio-diesel locomotives.

As a hiker I always considered it a treat to see The Cog climbing, and to hear the engine puffing against the grade. The whistle was always heard for miles around the Presidential summits. It was a treat to hear of passengers amazement of the feat that these little engines could accomplish. They were also amazed that I used two feet to get to the top rather than train or using the auto road.

The Cog is running once again this summer as it has for over a hundred years. If you have the chance while you are in the area, listen for that steam whistle high in the clear air of the mountains of New Hampshire.
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