Str. Mt. Washington, Leaving Weirs Beach, Lake Winnipesaukee, N.H. vintage postcard. The MS Mount Washington is the flagship vessel of the Winnipesaukee Flagship Corporation. Its home port is on Lake Winnipesaukee in Laconia, New Hampshire, in the United States. The ship makes several ports of call around the lake during her scenic cruises in the spring, summer and fall months. Ice-Out is declared when the Mount Washington can get to all of its ports of call. The history of the MS Mount Washington dates back to 1872 when the original paddle steamer Mount Washington was launched from Alton Bay. The Mount was the largest of all the steamers on the lake at 187 feet (57 m) in length, with a beam of 49 feet (15 m). She was driven by a single cylinder steam engine of 450 HP (336 kW) that operated at approximately 26 RPM. Power was transferred from the single vertical cylinder to the paddle wheel shaft by the walking beam, high above the upper deck, oscillating in the frequency of the paddle wheels.
She was built by the Boston and Maine Railroad Company with the intent of transporting cargo and passengers around the lake. By the late 1800s it was not uncommon for her to transport over 60,000 passengers in a single season. In the 1920s, with the rise of the automobile and declining train usage, the Boston and Maine Railroad Co. made the decision to sell the steamer to Captain Leander Lavallee. Captain Lavallee operated the Mount as a tourist attraction, still drawing crowds of over 60,000 a season.
The "Old Mount" graced Winnipesaukee for a total of 67 years before being destroyed on December 23, 1939, by fire. She was tied up at dock when a fire started at a nearby railway station. The fire spread down the dock and engulfed her at her home port. Efforts to cut the Mount loose were to no avail, as it was a time of extremely low water, and the hull was stuck fast in the mud of the lake bottom.