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Hotel proposed on US mountain peak

Associated Press logo Associated Press 11/12/2016 Kathy McCormack

The owners of a historic cog railway that climbs up New Hampshire's Mount Washington, the highest peak in America's Northeast, want to build an upscale hotel a mile from the summit, in keeping with hotels that once graced the mountain in the 1800s, and to accommodate an increasing number of summer tourists.

The 1900-metre Mount Washington has been attracting more tourists in New Hampshire's North Country with the loss of the Old Man of the Mountain, a granite profile and state symbol that crumbled in 2003. It draws over 300,000 guests annually.

The railway owners are considering a 35-room hotel with a restaurant on their own land that would withstand the weather extremes of Mount Washington. It would be open from late April until November and hopefully be ready by July 3 2019 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Mount Washington Cog Railway.

The railway runs nearly five kilometres up the west side of the mountain, and became the first-mountain-climbing cog railway in the world when it was built in 1869.

The owners want to build a 2300-square-metre hotel at the site of a train siding allowing trains to pass one another, called Skyline. They would like the train to pass through the building, isolating patrons from any weather issues.

"It would be much more upscale than what people are offered up there currently, and would be more in keeping with what was available at the turn of the century," said Wayne Presby, president of the Mount Washington Railway Company.

During the tourism season, visitors to Mount Washington can stay at Appalachian Mountain Club hut, and at the Mount Washington Observatory, although space is limited at both. Accommodations are somewhat spartan, with bunk beds and cafeteria-style food.

In 1873, the railway built, owned and operated a 91-room hotel known as the Summit House on the summit. It burned down in 1908 and was replaced by a smaller structure several years later. The state bought the property in 1964 and replaced the hotel with a visitor centre that was opened in 1980.

The Presby and Bedor families have owned and operated the railway for 34 years. They also owned, operated, and renovated the Mount Washington Hotel and Resort in nearby Bretton Woods. Their latest project, estimated to cost at least several million dollars, would be funded by them.

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