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Colorado Narrow Gauge Circle Tour
Part 12: Manitou to Pike's Peak

For more than 100 years, the Manitou and Pike's Peak Cog Railway (the world's highest cog railroad, the highest Colorado railroad AND highest train in the United States) has taken passengers to the 14,110 foot summit of Pikes Peak. The founder of the Manitou & Pike’s Peak Cog Railway was a Mr. Zalmon Simmons, owner of the Simmons Mattress Company. The first train to the summit made it in 1891 pushed by unique steam powered cog locomotives. It is not narrow gauge, but it is a must-see on any tour of Colorado railways.

The mountain was discovered by Zebulon Pike in 1806 during his exploration of the Louisiana Purchase. Gold was found nearby some years later that started the main invasion of the Colorado area by miners, then the railways.

There is abundant wildlife and you can see 4 states from the peak on a clear day. There is a static display at the Manitou Springs depot and another downtown. A third loco is at the Colorado Railway Museum. Don’t try the railway on the weekend when the Pike’s Peak Hill Climb is on – it’s a zoo unless you are involved in the race. It’s probably a zoo then too.

A total of 8 tiny 0–4–0 steamers with inclined boilers were built by Baldwin during the 1890’s. A homebuilt gasoline powered railcar appeared in 1938. Five General Electric diesel-electric rack locomotives were delivered in 1940 and ran till 1965 with streamlined passenger cars. These were replaced by Swiss Locomotive Works diesel electric streamliners starting in 1964 and were augmented by larger articulated units in 1976, 1984, and 1989. The line also runs a rack driven 500hp diesel snow blower and a small diesel for shunting.

The Garden of the Gods is just a few miles away. It has only minor railway significance, but it has such spectacular rock formations that you must see it. Get out and walk around – it is unimaginably strange and beautiful. The park was originally owned by Charles Perkins, President of the CB&Q. He died in 1907 and in 1909 his family donated the land to the City of Colorado Springs. The stipulation was that it be free to all and that no booze be allowed. It’s still free and still teetotal.

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The Cog Locomotives over time

Websites of Interest
http://www.cograilway.com/default.asp
http://gardenofgods.com/

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