If you are a steam enthusiast, and are prepared to view your visit as one to a living, working museum, then you will love this mini railway.
Whilst far from being a steam enthusiast, I do recall seeing the Flying Scotsman and the Mallard, in the heyday of steam, as a boy, in England, and have always had a soft spot for steam engines.
These little trains are lovingly kept running, in tip top condition, manufacturing parts if necessary, by a team of dedicated people and, in my view, it really is a living museum. True the admission fee is high, but, for me, well worth it, and our visit there, was one of the more memorable days, in NH, with which, if I’m honest, I was not all that impressed with for scenic beauty. I guess I’ve been spoilt by more rugged N. American scenery, the English Lake District mountains and European mountains, generally.
After we bought our tickets, we were told to be at the train by a certain time, with which we duly complied. It was virtually full, with only 2 seats, apart from one another, left. When we offered to go on the next train, so as to be together, my wife and I were told we couldn’t, as tickets are only valid for the departure time stamped thereon. A very obliging lady gave up her seat and sat next to her brother as opposed to her husband, and we were soon on our way, sitting next to one another.
As we knew before departure, there was a lot of low lying cloud (see photos attached), so we saw very little scenery and nothing at the summit at all.
At the summit there’s a cafeteria, a museum and the usual amenities, but, we were surprised to hear that we had to be back at the train, in 20 minutes, to be guaranteed a seat on that train, or we were standby on the next. Not wishing a repetition of what had gone before, I stayed by the train, at the head of the queue, in the bitter cold, after a minute or two of exploration of the summit facilities.
The weather was deplorable: very cold and foggy, but, if it had been pleasant, we would have been most unhappy that we would have been unable to relax at the summit, at our leisure, and take in the views, possibly have a picnic, take photos and generally soak up the ambiance of the place, without pressure of time. Naively, I had assumed that one could have spent as long as long as one wished, as long as one caught the last train of the day.
At least coming back, we were in the front row of the car, so we had a good view of the engine, the braking system being operated by the entertaining guard, and I got some good photo opportunities. Incidentally, they do allow you to move around the car to take shots, if you can’t from where you’re seated.
I found the ascent and descent quite fascinating. How those old, little, steam trains chug all the way to the top and come back down again is quite something else.
I enjoyed the museum at the base station and watching trains being fuelled and departing up the mountain again, but, as I say, I do have a certain fascination with engineering marvels from the turn of the century. If one did not have this, I would not recommend it at all. It would be a very expensive trip, in particular for a family, which is hardly warranted, in my view, bearing in mind the short, 20 minute stay at the summit.
I took lots of pictures of the trains at the base station, on the journey up and down and at the summit. If you’re interested, they may be accessed at:
One of the more memorable days of my holiday in VT, NH & ME in 2006.
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