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travel & adventure By Dan n y S u m m ers

The railcars have changed, but the views remain. Photos courtesy Cog Railway.

the cog: then and now The Pikes Peak Cog Railway takes a scenic journey through the region’s history

T

he Pikes Peak Cog Railway celebrates its 120th birthday in 2011. And while the style of the railcar has changed over the years, the delightful experience remains the same for travelers of all ages who embark up the face of majestic Pikes Peak. Prior to the Cog Railway, the only way to reach the summit of Pikes Peak was to traverse the 14,115-foot grand mountain by burro, or from Cascade via the Pikes Peak Carriage Road. Or, if you were a real adventurer, hiking to the top was an option, but not often attempted or achieved. The Cog Railway begins in downtown Manitou Springs at the historic Depot. In 1891, when the first passenger trips were made, the Cog Railway quickly became a tourist thriller as it used a gear or cog wheel that meshed into a rock in the center of the rails to climb the steep grades. The Cog Railway was built by mattress tycoon Zalmon Simmons, a visitor to the Pikes Peak region in the late 1880s who thought there should be a better way to get to the top of the peak than a two-day mule ride. In 1889, the Manitou and Pikes Peak railway was founded and track construction began in earnest. On June 30, 1891, the first passenger train carried a Denver church choir to the summit. Katherine Lee Bates wrote “America The Beautiful” after taking an inspirational wagon trip up the summit in 1895. On Dec. 31, 1922, five veteran mountaineers— Ed and Fred Morath, Fred Barr, Willis Magee and Harry Standley—used the Cog’s tracks to climb the mountain. When they reached the top, Ed Morath suggested

108 The Broadmoor Magazine | 2011 • 2012

doing it again the following New Year’s Eve, so they formed the AdAmAn Club, adding one new member each year. The club is still in existence today and shoots off fireworks from the top of the peak each New Year’s. Broadmoor founder Spencer Penrose acquired the Cog Railway in 1925 and spent $500,000 to upgrade it. Gasoline and diesel powered locomotives slowly replaced steam power between 1939 and 1955. Four custom-built Swiss twin-unit railcars, each seating 216 passengers, went into service in 1989. Those taking the Cog Railway still enjoy a breathtaking ride up to the summit. The nine-mile route takes 75 minutes to reach the top. The round-trip requires three hours, 10 minutes, including a 40-minute stop at the summit. The journey is exciting from the start, but when the track leaves the forest to creep above the timberline at about 11,500 feet, passengers can’t help but be awestruck. The temperature drastically changes the higher the train climbs, dropping more than 40 degrees in the summer. Once above the tree line, Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep and yellow-bellied marmots are prevalent. A journey up majestic Pikes Peak in the one-of-a-kind Cog Railway is a unique experience that recalls the history of the region and the majesty of the Rocky Mountain scenery. — ­Excerpted with permission from the Pikes Peak Courier View.

To learn more about the Cog Railway, visit www.cograilway.com.

The Broadmoor Magazine 2011-2012  

The Broadmoor Resort is an historical marvel and legendary for its quality and service. Visit this unique resort and you'll understand the...

The Broadmoor Magazine 2011-2012  

The Broadmoor Resort is an historical marvel and legendary for its quality and service. Visit this unique resort and you'll understand the...