Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Mt. Beacon Incline Railway

The Billy Goat was on the road recently to Mt. Beacon Park in Beacon, New York to visit it's twin peaks and it's Incline Railway. I discovered the history of Mt. Beacon and it's railway while doing research on our own Mt. Tom Railroad.

The day of my visit happened to be the hike to commemorate the 107th anniversary of the Mount Beacon Incline Railway. The Incline Railway opened on May, 30 1902, and on it's first day sold 1,400 fares, all told 60,000 people rode the incline during it's first season in 1902.

The railway ran from 1902 to 1978 and was engineered by the Otis Elevator Company and built
by several subcontractors including Mohawk Construction Company of Mohawk, New York and
Ramapo Iron Works of Hilburn, New York who built the railway cars.

The railway was very similar to our Mt. Tom incline railway with two cars operating on a single track with a turnout to allow the two cars to pass each other at the midway point.

The biggest difference between the two incline railways were their grades in steepness, while Mt Tom's grade was around 21 percent, the Mt. Beacon grade had an average grade of 65 percent with the last 800 feet being a whopping 74 percent making it at the time the steepest incline railway in the world. 

After the railway closed in 1978, it secured it's upper and lower stations and parked it's two cars at mid-track to discourage vandalism and awaited better times, but in 1983  fire engulfed the entire railway, destroying the track, it's two cars, the lower station and upper power house building, it seemed like the end for the railway, but in 1996 the Mount Beacon Incline Railway Restoration Society was formed with the purpose of reconstructing the railway. 

Please visit their link for more info on their goals and a complete history of the railway:

The Beaconcrest Hotel 

In addition to the hotel and casino, there were also a few private cottages on top of the summit,
most of them are just piles of debris now, though i was told one still stands, unfortunately i wasn't able to get a picture.

The foundation walls to the hotel are still in great shape!!!

The entrance way to the Hotel Beaconcrest

The Casino

In addition to the beautiful views of the Hudson River valley, the summit also had a hotel and casino. Both met the same fate as the Mt. Tom Summit House when they both were destroyed by fire in October of 1927. Both were rebuilt but met the same fate once again. Here is what remains of the hotel and casino.

The Power House

One of the pullies that drove the cable cars.

The electric motor that powered the Incline Railway.

A few pictures of the Power House remains.

The roadway leading to the hotel and casino.

The passengers would then climb these stairs to a short roadway leading to the hotel and casino which were located on the summit.

Here are a few pictures of the Power House at the top of the incline, in the background is where
the tressel would have been to unload passengers to the Mt. Beacon summit.

The Lower Station

This is all that remains of the Mt. Beacon Incline Railway Lower Station.

The Incline Railway

Minutes before taking this picture a herd of deer passed by and as usual, didn't have my camera ready.
This road was the original trolley line that originated at the banks of the Hudson river and transported passengers to the Lower Station of the Mt. Beacon Incline Railway.

All that remains of the incline rail heading to the summit of Mount Beacon.

Laying Down The Line.  The railway was built by hard men in the dead of winter, requiring every bit of their grit, endurance and ingenuity. When their strength failed, pack mules picked up the slack. (Courtesy Of The Mount Beacon Historical Society)

Incline Opening Day May 30, 1902. On a hot sunny Memorial Day, a large crowd gathered at the foot of the mountain to be part of the grand opening of the Mount Beacon Incline Railway. More than 1,4oo fares were sold that day. All told 60,000 people rode the incline during the first season of 1902. (Courtesy Of The Mount Beacon Historical Society)

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