Rare Video Shows Mount Beacon Incline Railway in Action from 1902
For nearly eight decades, the Mount Beacon Incline Railway was the highlight of one of the most famous and recognizable mountains in the Hudson Valley. Recently unearthed footage shows what it looked like to ride the world's steepest funicular railway over 120 years ago.
Remnants of the incline railway are still on the Mount Beacon in 2023. Warped tracks and rusted cables trace a path up the sharp incline, leading many modern hikers to wonder what it would be like to take the easy way up. Now we know.
1902 Video of Beacon, NY's Incline Railway
The vintage video (below), originally released by an organization devoted to the restoration of the famous tourist attraction, shows a beautifully crafted wood and steel track and a single tram car as it's pulled up the mountain. The secret to how a train car can "climb" a mountain is all in the way it's operated.
What is a Funicular Railway?
Classified as a "funicular" railway system, the Mount Beacon Incline Railway is operated much like an elevator, with cables pulling the passenger car instead of an engine driving the wheels. While the wheels of an engine-driven train car would never be able to maintain the track friction needed to summit such a peak, a cable system eliminates the issue.
The Decline of the Mount Beacon Incline Railway
The railway enjoyed almost a century of operation before its rapid decline. A fire soon after its closure in 1978 destroyed enough of the track and operational buildings to dash nearly all hope of the railway to ever be restored. Years later, however, the effort still remains. While the nonprofit group dedicated to the railway's restoration has laid somewhat dormant as of late, their Facebook page still remains active.
Want more Beacon history? Check out a gallery of the abandoned Hudson River Hospital for the Insane below, and keep scrolling to learn about the "secret" history of Beacon Bigfoot.