Starting from its grand opening in 1902, the Mount Beacon Incline Railway brought passengers from this small city on the shores of the Hudson River to an elevation of 1,200 feet on top of Mount Beacon. With a maximum gradient of 74 percent, the railway was the steepest passenger funicular in the world at the time.
At the top, the Mount Beacon Casino and Beaconcrest Hotel provided amenities to visitors, many of whom had journeyed up the Hudson from New York City to escape into the idyllic scenery of the region. Beautiful panoramic views of the Hudson Valley could be seen from the railway and the summit. In its first year, the railway sold 60,000 fares. By 1922, that number had nearly doubled.
Financial troubles eventually led to the end of the railway in 1978. While the abandoned structures were added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982, a year later a fire (blamed on vandals) destroyed part of what remained. Today, the incline railway and summit buildings lie in ruins, while a nonprofit group is working to raise funds to restore them.
Though the revival may never come, the hike up the mountain along the former incline railway to the ruins is quite popular, with many visitors continuing on to the fire tower at the summit of South Beacon Mountain. Breathtaking views of the Hudson River cutting through the valley and the surrounding region stretching out to the horizon can still be seen from the ruins at the peak.
Know Before You Go
The lower end of the railway is a short walk from the parking lot at the bottom of the mountain, but a steep 1-mile (each way) hike is required to reach the ruins of the casino and hotel.