National Geographic : 1937 Jul
FROM NOTCH TO NOTCH IN THE WHITE MOUNTAINS Some legisla tors called him "Crazy Marsh." Another sug gested an amend ment to the char ter so that Marsh could continue his railroad to the moon. But in the end the char ter was granted. The War Be tween the States slowed Marsh's progress, but im mediately after hostilities ceased he began pushing his dream to a successful conclu sion. He set up an operating model of his rail road in a Boston office. The en gine weighed 17 pounds and the inclined track was 20 feet long. Capitalists re fused to become interested in the strange creation, so the inventor dug into his own pocket and built a short experi mental section of track on a shoul der of Mount Washington. Au gust 26, 1866, Marsh demon strated his Photograph by Clifton Adams "THAT'S A LOAD OFF MY SHOULDERS" At one of the cabins of the Appalachian Mountain Club below Mount Wash ington, two hikers wearily take off knapsacks which somehow have come to weigh a ton. Little wonder, for the two have just descended the big mountain by way of Boott Spur and Montalban Ridge. Such comfortable shelters as this add greatly to the enjoyment of hiking in the White Mountains (pages 102-3). "folly." It was a success. Even men who had jeered him were amazed and became interested. The first train chugged to the summit without mishap in 1869. The engine resembled a modern hoisting engine. It was named Hero, but someone remarked that it looked like a peppersauce bottle, commonly used in New England homes in the sixties. "Old Peppersass" it was dubbed. The railroad has carried more than a half million passengers to the summit of Mount Washington without a casualty on a regular run. The average grade of the track is about 25 per cent and on one stretch, Jacob's Ladder, it is more than 36 per cent (page 76). As you observe the queer little engine pushing the passenger car up the mountain side, you agree that "Crazy" Marsh was no more unbalanced than Seward when he pro posed the purchase of the Alaskan "folly." The three-mile trip on the railroad takes 70 minutes. For the comfort of passen gers, the seats are so constructed that they are nearly level on the steepest grades.