Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Climbing Mount Beacon

I have been wanting to check out Mount Beacon for months now, but keep having to postpone due to rain or other things coming up. I finally made it there on Saturday--of course, while it was a sunny day when I left the house, it started to rain as soon as I arrived in Beacon and did not stop until I had reached the top of the mountain...but I'm getting ahead of myself.

Here is the view from the bottom. Since hiking the trail, I've learned that it played an important factor in the Revolutionary War, when George Washington's troops set signal fires to communicate vital information about British troop movements. Which is pretty interesting, but the aspect that has so attracted me to this site is that from 1902 to 1978 it was home to the Mount Beacon Incline Railway. Traveling 2,200 feet of trackway to 1,540 feet above sea-level, it was the steepest railway in existence during the time of its operation. And so you can probably imagine that it was a pretty intense hike to the top.

Here we are at the bottom at the ruins of the station house.

The beginning of the train tracks, or what is left of them.

At this point there are stairs taking you up the first part of your ascension. But this is just the beginning. After the stairs end there is nearly a mile of trail--not a long hike, but an incredibly steep one. I didn't take any pictures as I was more concerned about making it to the top in one piece.

A beautiful sight after an exhausting hike--the top of Mount Beacon.

The remains of the powerhouse and machinery, which were destroyed by fire in 1983, along with the entire railroad.

I can't fathom how they got this stuff up here more than 100 years ago, when they were relying on mules to carry everything up (and the poor mules could only handle 24 bricks at a time).

The view from the top. I believe the is the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge in the distance. You can just make out the site of Dia Beacon (or so I think).

I'm not sure if this is part of the ruins of the casino (yes, there was a casino up there) or Beaconcrest Hotel. There was also a complex of vacation cottages somewhere around here.

After the rains, a temporary pond has sprung up in the woods.

Apparently the trails continue on for another 8 miles to connect to the Hudson Highlands. But we instead opted to take the steep trek back down to our car.

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