I recently took a trip up Mt. Washington in NH via the Cog Railway. When I returned I was curious to learn more about its history. I’m happy to report there is a lot of online information including many public domain pictures from 150 years ago. I’ll share a few with you and we can compare the old with the new. Our group (celebrating a few recent birthdays) started out quite early and arrived about an hour before takeoff. Because the weather was rather iffy, it turned out an earlier train still had room available, so we hopped on that one instead, with no waiting—ALL ABOARD!A similar group, anxious to board the Cog, is shown waiting below. Photo by Franklin G. Weller (1833-1877).
On the trip up, our brakeman (at right) gave us a rundown of what we were seeing and a bit of history. The Cog Railway made its first trip up the 6,288′ mountain in 1869, running on wood-fired boilers. Starting in 1910, coal was used. Today’s trains are biodiesel-powered, but they run on the same tracks and use the same cog technology as they did long ago. Even though they appear old-fashioned, these newer locomotives have a computer package on board that runs the engine and monitors its exact position on the track.
On August 31, 1899, F. O. Stanley and his wife, Flora, of Newton, MA, drove a ‘Stanley Locomobile’ to the top of Mount Washington and became the first people to make this journey by car. It was a dangerously steep trek and took them 2 hours and 10 minutes to reach the top, not counting stops to add water (7.6 miles). The engine was put in low gear to descend, and brakes were used continuously.Our trek up and down the mountain was quite a bit different. Several places of interest to see on the ride were the halfway house, hikers (yes, they still moon the Cog), streams, lots of trees, wildflowers (including lupines!), and maybe even a moose…After a pleasant ride up we reached the top of the highest mountain in New England in about 45-50 minutes. We were met with so much fog it was impossible to take in any views. Apparently there are only an average of 65 clear days a year. This next picture might look like one from long ago, but I took it last weekend and only after a bit of enhancing did any color show.But still, it was a fun trip and we were happy to reach the Tip Top House which was built in 1853. Visitors can go inside and stroll through the rooms of this old-time hotel. Cog riders get to hang out on top of the mountain for an hour which is plenty of time to visit the weather museum, gift shops, and cafeteria, and there’s even a post office if you’d like to send mail with a special Mt. Washington zip code stamp to those down below. We also went inside the old Tip Top house and found our way around the foggy summit.
My friends at the top:These two hikers came up the long way on foot on a cold, but brighter day in November 2007. Looks like the sign has had a paint job since then; in fact it’s probably a yearly requirement with so many visitors hanging onto it for dear life, so they won’t blow away. Hikers from all over climb this mountain as its summit is part of the Appalachian Trail.One of the displays in the museum reminded me of when my nephew worked in the weather observatory on Mt. Washington, home of possibly the most turbulent weather in the world. Back in 1934 winds were recorded at 231 miles per hour. No wonder people look like they’re walking a little strange.Sadly, this unpredictable weather accounts for tragedies over the years. One of the most famous being the death of Miss Lizzie Bourne in 1855 . She succumbed to the elements after climbing up with her cousin, Lucy, and uncle, George. It’s difficult to imagine hiking in layers upon layers of Victorian garb, plus she also may have had a heart condition. They left at 2 p.m. and were halfway by 4 p.m. As darkness fell with a heavy cloud cover they couldn’t find their way and the girls were too tired to continue on. Lizzie’s uncle spent hours building a rock wall to protect his daughter and niece only to find Lizzie dead when he finally stopped for a much needed rest himself. After the long night, her grieving uncle discovered with the morning sun that shelter at the Tip Top House had only been a few hundred yards away. Lizzie was buried on what was to have been her wedding day. Never quite the same, Lizzie’s Uncle George died 15 months later. He was the same Bourne who built the amazing Wedding Cake House in Kennebunk. And since this post is all over the place, I’ll include a picture:Time to return to our focus and head back down the mountain.If you’d rather travel by steam, there’s still that option, as well. There’s always one steam locomotive scheduled for the first trip of the day. After we came back down, I caught a peek at one moving along the track.Overall, not too much has changed in over 100 years.
For those who might hesitate when reading reviews of the steep incline, have no fear, it’s a very safe ride with only two major accidents, the last one being 50 years ago. It’s a little pricey ($69) to ride the Cog, but it’s well worth it, just make sure you pick a good weather day!
Call Me Amy chosen for 2014 Best Books of the Year!
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Great Reviews for CALL ME AMY
“Well-drawn, sympathetic characters and the developing spark between Amy and Craig combine to create a pleasant, satisfying read.” –KIRKUS
“Strykowski lovingly captures seaside Maine and the travails of adolescence in her quiet, sweet-natured debut novel.”—PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
“Strykowski ably depicts Amy’s insecurity and self-doubt, Craig’s bravura and pain, and Miss Cogshell’s wisdom with a deft, convincing touch. In essence, Amy comes of age as she fights to find her voice in the outside world and shed some of her debilitating insecurity. Readers will cheer her on, and her splendid team, too.” –BOOKLIST
"The protagonist grows throughout the story, from a shy loner to having two friends and speaking her mind in front of her adversaries at school as well as to the whole town. …Amy is a reliable narrator and easily relatable.” –SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL
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“To do a good deed, we can find friendship in the most curious of locations. “Call Me Amy” is a novel from Marcia Strykowski following the struggles of Amy Henderson, who finds an injured seal and seeks to nurse it, with the help of a scorned aging woman and an unusual youth. Set in the early 70s and exploring the essence of loneliness, “Call Me Amy” is a powerful read that should prove so very hard to put down, highly recommended.”—MIDWEST BOOK REVIEW
“This is a wonderful YA tale for the simple fact that it shows one and all that the power and courage to stand up and be heard in this life comes from within. And that no matter who you are, you have that toughness inside your soul. Craig has a lovely heart that hides behind that sarcasm he aims at the world, and he will remind every small town girl about that quiet boy she fell in love with long ago. ‘Old Coot’ brings the fun and humor along with her, and Pup is the sweetest creature in the world. Having all the ingredients of first love, faith, loss and strength makes ‘Amy’ unforgettable.” —FEATHERED QUILL
“For Amy, 1973 has been a lonely year, her only friend moved away and she feels awkward around her classmates. Until one day Amy discovers that Craig, another classmate, has rescued an injured seal pup. Amy agrees to help him and together they hide the pup at Miss Cogshell’s house, the odd old lady most kids call “Old Coot.” Amy learns that people aren’t always what they seem to be, and she forms a friendship with Craig and Miss Cogshell. A great story about friendship and doing what you think is right.” —KIDSBOOKSHELF
“For those ages 8 to 12, Call Me Amy by Marcia Strykowski will resonate with familiar themes of growing up. The year is 1973 and for Amy Henderson, it has been a lonely one with too many awkward moments to count. When she finds an injured seal pup, she rescues him to rehabilitate him. In the process she forms an unlikely alliance with Craig, a boy around her age, and an older woman in town. With their help she discovers that people aren’t always what they seem despite what others may think of them. This is a story filled with many elements that will appeal to younger readers and I highly recommend it.”—BOOKVIEWS.COM
"A wounded seal pup propels 13-year-old Amy Henderson into an unlikely alliance with an unusual older woman and a mysterious boy in a small Maine fishing village. Readers will cheer for Amy as she protects Pup, gains confidence, faces challenges, and comes up with an idea that could change not only the future of her village, but also, her own life. With a skillful hand, Strykowski introduces us to a small town with memorable characters and the girl who could bring them all together." ---Anne Broyles, award-winning author of PRISCILLA AND THE HOLLYHOCKS
"In a small town in Maine in the 1970's, Amy is standing on the brink of becoming a young adult. The events that will force her to discover who she is, what she is made of and how she wants others to perceive her are sweetly told through awkward teenage moments, the triumphs and sadnesses of that age and ultimately, Amy's discovery of her own beliefs, strength and courage." ---Kathleen Benner Duble, acclaimed author of THE SACRIFICE
“Call Me Amy is exactly the type of book I love. The characters are relatable and likeable; they are individuals that the reader enjoys getting to know while watching them change and develop. The setting of the small Maine coastal town is idyllic, and the reader is quickly and completely immersed in this community. Although the novel takes place in the 1970s, it feels timeless. Young readers will readily associate with Amy’s struggles and triumphs with her relationships with family and friends, and mature readers will be gently nudged back to this period in their life. These universal qualities make this novel a perfect choice for many types of readers. As a Youth Services Librarian, I would enthusiastically recommend Call Me Amy to our young patrons as well as to a more adult audience. Because it can be enjoyed on so many levels, this novel would be an ideal source of discussion for an adult/child book group.” ---Patty Falconer, Youth Services Librarian
"I just finished CALL ME AMY and I think it is wonderful with beautiful descriptions. I love the characters and their story. It is like having seen a good play or movie and later, while you are doing other things, it comes back to you and you think about the characters again." ---Peggy Arnold, retired teacher and avid reader.
For 13-year-old Amy Henderson, 1973 has been a lonely and uneventful year in her small Maine fishing village. With the help of a wounded seal pup, she gets to know Craig, who slinks around in an oversized army jacket. A new law against handling wild marine mammals brings suspense to the story. Where can they keep Pup until he heals? Their only hope is to trust Miss Cogshell, an elderly woman keeping to herself amidst jeers from the local kids, who catches them sneaking Pup into her woodshed in the middle of the night. Throughout the book, small challenges prepare Amy for her greatest one of all. A challenge that leads her to discover that everyone, herself included, has a voice worth hearing.