Destruction

A solitary figure rides a decidedly tired looking railway in a photo that epitomizes the Incline's decline from the 1950s thru the 1970s. Courtesy Beacon Historic Society

A solitary figure rides a decidedly tired looking railway in a photo that epitomizes the Incline's decline from the 1950s thru the 1970s.

Courtesy Beacon Historic Society

The 1970s was the beginning of the end for the Mount Beacon Incline Railway. Paralyzed by debt and continuously ravaged by fire, it struggled mightily. In 1972, the New York State Department of Tourism closed the railway for unsanitary conditions at the upper station, and it didn't open again for regular service until May 30, 1975, the 73rd anniversary of its operation.


That return to "regular" service was short-lived, however, as the Incline continued to operate sporadically until 1978, when the owners lost title to the land at the top of the railway due to a tax sale. Divided, bankrupt and in disrepair, the Mount Beacon Incline Railway locked its station doors, parked its two cars at mid-track to discourage vandalism, and awaited better times.  
 
In 1982, it seemed those better times might somehow be on the way when the railway and its upper powerhouse were both placed on the National Register of Historic Places by the U.S. Department of the Interior.


On September 18,  1983, a fire finally destroyed the dormant railway. The entire trackway and lower station were consumed. Sadly, the powerhouse, survivor of earlier fires, was also razed. Courtesy Beacon Historic Society

On September 18, 
1983, a fire finally destroyed the dormant railway. The entire trackway and lower station were consumed. Sadly, the powerhouse, survivor of earlier fires, was also razed.

Courtesy Beacon Historic Society

But the reality was quite different. One final, cataclysmic fire swept the mountain in September 1983, destroying the railway from top to bottom. Nothing was spared--both stations, the powerhouse, the cars, the trackway and trestles: all were consumed by a suspicious fire, likely the result of vandalism. It was a sad ending to a historic railway that embodied so many of the things inherently good about America: the pursuit of a dream, the excitement of the journey, and the harmonious blending of technology and nature. 
 
The Mount Beacon Incline is the Coney Island Cyclone of mountaintop railways. Though no longer the steepest in the world or a technological marvel by 21st century standards, it earned its place in history by operating across four generations, thrilling millions, and always getting its passengers back down the mountain safely. To restore it is to honor those who came before us and to preserve a tremendous piece of American engineering and leisure history. We hope you'll join us in the effort to bring this lost mountain railway back to life.

In 1995, Mount Beacon and remains of the historic Incline were conserved by Scenic Hudson in 1995.

Powerhouse machinery before the 1983 fire... Courtesy Beacon Historic Society

Powerhouse machinery before the 1983 fire...

Courtesy Beacon Historic Society

and today...

and today...