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Frequently Asked Questions

Since this site was first posted to the Web, I have had dozens of e-mail letters from people with questions about the Cog. It was suggested to me that I might want to host a FAQ page at my site. Since I was answering the letters anyway, I decided to try it out.

I have saved some of the original questions I received and I am posting them along with the answers here. All future questions can be posted here as well. Please E-Mail Me me from here and I will post your question and the answer.


WHY IS IT CALLED A COG RAILWAY?
HOW ARE THE ENGINES POWERED?
HOW MANY PEOPLE RUN EACH TRAIN?
WHY ARE THE BOILERS TILTED?
DO THE ENGINES RUN ALL NIGHT?
WHY DOES THE ENGINE PUSH THE COACH UP THE MOUNTAIN?
HOW MANY TRAINS ARE THERE?
HOW LONG DOES THE TRIP TAKE?
WHAT'S AT THE TOP?
WHY WAS IT BUILT?


A: Well, running down between the rails is a RACK, into which a cog gear engages. The engine turns the cog gear and the train climbs tooth by tooth. Check my What is a Cog Railway section for a better description.


A:The engines are coal fired steam locomotives. Basically, a coal fire heats water until it turns to steam. The steam is then directed to 4 cylinders which drive the cog gear.


A: Three. A brakeman, who rides on the coach with the passengers and brakes the train on the down trip. A fireman who is responsible for the fire and steam, as well as assisting the engineer, and the engineer, who is ultimately responsible for the operation of the entire train.


A: Located inside of the boiler are tubes running horizontally. These tubes are surrounded by water. The heat from the coal fire passes through these tubes and heats the water in the boiler. The tubes must be kept covered with water. Because of the steep grades on the Cog, the boilers tilt forward. That way when the train is on the steepest grades, the boiler remains almost level and the tubes stay covered.


A: Yes. When the train comes down from its last run of the day, the boiler is filled with water. The fire is banked for the night by putting a pile of coal on top of hot coal in one corner of the firebox. If this is done correctly, the fire will still be burning in the morning and the bank spread out in the firebox and more coal added until the steam pressure comes up.


A: In a word, safety. The engine and the coach are never connected. Each is equipped with a ratchet and pawl which is engaged on the trip up. Should the engine suddenly lose power, the ratchet will lock in place and prevent the engine and coach from rolling backwards. Coming down, the coach is braked separately of the engine. The engine still remains on the down-mountain end of the coach as an added safety measure.

A: There are seven complete sets of engines and cars. They usually run in pairs during the busiest times. Two turnouts or switches allow the passing of the trains.

A: The usual time for a round trip is approximately three hours including a 20 minute stay on the summit.

A: There is a variety of buildings located on the summit. The Sherman Adams Building houses the State Park offices, gift shop and snack bar. Also housed in this building is the Mount Washington Observatory, which is manned all year long. The Tip-Top House is aalso located on the summit and is often open for public inspection.

A: The railway was built for exactly the same purpose it serves today; bringing tourists to the summit. Conceived in the 1850's by Sylvester Marsh, it was completed in 1869.

 

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