CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — The owners of a historic cog railway that climbs up New Hampshire's Mount Washington, the highest peak in the Northeast, want to build an upscale hotel a mile from the summit, in keeping with hotels that once graced the mountain in the 1800s, and to accommodate an increasing number of summer tourists.
The 6,288-foot Mount Washington has been attracting more tourists in New Hampshire's North Country with the loss of the Old Man of the Mountain, a granite profile and state symbol that crumbled in 2003. It draws over 300,000 guests annually.
The railway owners are considering a 35-room hotel with a restaurant on their own land that would withstand the weather extremes of Mount Washington. It would be open from late April through November and hopefully be ready by July 3, 2019, to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Mount Washington Cog Railway.
The railway runs 3 miles up the west side of the mountain, and became the first-mountain-climbing cog railway in the world when it was built in 1869.
The owners want to build a 25,000-square-foot hotel at the site of a train siding allowing trains to pass one another, called Skyline. They would like the train to pass through the building, isolating patrons from any weather issues.
"It would be much more upscale than what people are offered up there currently, and would be more in keeping with what was available at the turn of the century," said Wayne Presby, president of the Mount Washington Railway Company.
During the tourism season, visitors to Mount Washington can stay at Appalachian Mountain Club hut, and at the Mount Washington Observatory, although space is limited at both. Accommodations are somewhat spartan, with bunk beds and cafeteria-style food.
In 1873, the railway built, owned and operated a 91-room hotel known as the Summit House on the summit. It burned down in 1908 and was replaced by a smaller structure several years later. The state bought the property in 1964 and replaced the hotel with a visitor center that was opened in 1980.
The Presby and Bedor families have owned and operated the railway for 34 years. They also owned, operated, and renovated the Mount Washington Hotel and Resort in nearby Bretton Woods. Their latest project, estimated to cost at least several million dollars, would be funded by them.
The families will discuss the proposal at a Dec. 8 meeting of a county planning board. The project will need numerous permits, including for sewer, water, and other infrastructure.
This story has been corrected to show the Summit House burned down in 1908, not 1980.