Sixty miles north of New York City are the remains of what was once the world's steepest incline railway.

The funicular at Mount Beacon was built in 1902. Designed by the Otis Elevator Company, it had two cars with a capacity of about 50 passengers each. When one car started its climb up the 2,384 foot track, the other would start heading down. About halfway up the mountain, the track split into a double track section where the cars would pass each other.

The trip to the 1,540 foot summit took about 40 minutes. Once at the top, visitors could spend the day at the casino, or sit on the veranda overlooking the Hudson River and the town of Beacon below.

In 1908, the 60-room Beaconcrest Hotel was built next to the casino. Silent film director D.W. Griffith filmed "The Red Man's View'' there in 1909, and in later years stars such as Gloria Swanson and Mary Pickford vacationed there.

Disaster struck on October 17, 1927, when a fire destroyed the casino and hotel. Although the railway continued operating through the years afterward, it never regained its popularity. It was finally abandoned in February 1978.

After years of vandalism and neglect, the site was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. Unfortunately, a fire in September 1983 destroyed the last remnants of the abandoned railway.

Today, the site is part of Hudson Highlands State Park, and is a popular hiking destination. The only traces of the incline railway are foundations of the buildings, and rusting machinery in the ruins of the power house at the summit. A non-profit organization, Mount Beacon Incline Railway Restoration Society, hopes to rebuild the railway someday.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.