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First Anniversary Trip Aboard Manitou and Pike's Peak Railway 10:40 AM Train 7/5/2021

by Chris Guenzler

7/4/2021While we stayed in Castle Rock as it was Independence Day in the United States, we took a walk before driving to the Castle Rock Service Center, parked and watched the fireworks being shot over the valley floor. The Big Show started with three large bangs then one of the best aerial fireworks shows I or Elizabeth had ever seen. We returned to the Best Western Plus and called it a night.

7/5/2021 We start our big day off with breakfast at the International House of Pancakes before I drove us to Manitou Springs and parked the car in the parking lot.

Manitou and Pike's Peak Railway History

The Broadmoor Pikes Peak Cog Railway (also known as the Pikes Peak Cog Railway) is a Strub rack system cog railway with 4 ft 8 1⁄2 in standard gauge track in Colorado, climbing the well-known mountain Pikes Peak. The base station is in Manitou Springs, Colorado, near Colorado Springs. The railway is the highest in North America by a considerable margin. It was built and operated for the tourist trade following its use by people who lived above the town below. The railway remained closed for a complete rebuild for two years. No trains ran in 2018, 2019 and 2020. It reopened on May 20, 2021 with new and rebuilt equipment. The Abt rack system was replaced with the Strub rack system.

More commonly called simply the Manitou Incline, the Mount Manitou Scenic Incline Railway was actually a funicular up the side of a peak called Rocky Mountain located adjacent to Mount Manitou. It was operated by the Manitou and Pike's Peak Railway until its closure following a rockslide in 1990. This line's lower terminus was adjacent to the Cog Railway base station in Manitou Springs. The Manitou Incline averaged almost a 40% grade, gaining 2,011 feet in elevation over a length of approximately 1 mile, with the maximum grade being 68%.

The Manitou Incline was initially built in 1907 for use in construction of city water lines and a hydroelectric plant. When the construction was finished, the Manitou and Pike's Peak Railway took over the cable car as a tourist operation. From 1990 forward, the defunct Incline had been controversial because, although legally off-limits to the public, its roadbed was heavily used for recreation and exercise by people ignoring the trespassing signs. It became legal to use the Incline on February 1, 2013. Colorado Springs Parks and Recreation manages the Incline trail through an intergovernmental agreement. As of 2017 the railway owns enough equipment (railcars and snow plows) to run six to eight trains per day from mid-May through mid-September. During "off-peak" months (mid-September through mid-December and mid-March through mid-May), from one to five trains are run per day, with additional trains added if there is sufficient demand.

The railway was usually closed from mid-December through mid-March unless the snow plows were able to clear the line, but in 2006 the railway began year-round service. The winter service varies according to demand: in January, for example, trains run once a day on weekends and holidays. These winter operations were suspended on October 29, 2017, for maintenance to the railway. In March 2018 it was announced that the railway would remain closed indefinitely while feasibility studies are completed. On June 13, 2018, the Manitou Springs City Council approved a pair of tax incentives to fund repairs of the railway. On November 29, 2018, it was announced that the tax incentives had been approved, and that reconstruction would begin in spring 2019 for a projected 2021 reopening; the project saw the replacement of all track, automation of the switches at the passing sidings, the Manitou Springs depot remodeled to add a second track, new platforms at the summit, and retirement of SLM cars 14, 16, and 17 (with car 15 retained for maintenance-of-way duties) in favor of three trainsets manufactured by Stadler Rail; the Stadler sets consist of diesel locomotives pushing three passengers cars, marking a return to locomotive-hauled trains, and supplement the SLM two-car units, which were refurbished. By November 2020, the new Stadler rolling stock was ready for commissioning. In February, the new trains 27, 28 and 29 were shipped to the United States. A snow blower (number 30) had been ordered from Zaugg AG of Eggiwil and was delivered together with the new trains. The snow blower has to be pushed by one of the new Stadler locomotives and can act as a driving trailer for the locomotive. The line reopened on May 20, 2021.

Our Ride on the Manitou and Pike's Peak Railway

We visted the gift shop for a pair of coffee mugs and magnets. Elizabeth took our purchases to the car while I started taking pictures.

Our trainset for the trip came down from the shops.

Car 18 would be the car we would be riding today to the top of Pike's Peak. I went and got Elizabeth and we got into the car 2 line.

A picture of our car 2 in the Car 18 trainset. After a safety briefing, plus a bathrooom and water warning when Elizabeth bought us a Manitou and Pike's Peak Cog Rail water bottle to keep us hydrated on our trip. The Conductor then said "Highball" and the trip started.

The view ahead of our train.

A view of the brand new cog rail line.

A forward view up the grade.

View of the Base Station behind us.

The train starts up the grade.

One of the pieces of maintenance equipment along our route.

The train climbing the grade to Minnehaha Falls.

The train went by Minnehaha Falls. Now sit back and enjoy the trip up to Inspiration Point.

The trip up to Inspiration Point. The views were the catalyst for "America The Beautiful", a poem written by Katharine Lee Bates that first appeared in print in The Congregationalist, a weekly journal, on July 4, 1895. Within a few months, it was set to music by Silas G. Pratt.

The view from Inspiration Point. Now sit back and enjoy the views to the summit of Pike's Peak.

I hope you have enjoyed the views all the way to Pike's Peak. The summit area is still under construction. The signs we shot pictures at in 2016 are gone until the project is completed.

Our Car 18 at the Summit of Pike's Peak. Now for the photos from 14,115 foot peak.

The views from Pike's Peak that I could get on this trip.

The two trains at the summit of Pike's Peak.

My lovely wife Elizabeth on our First Anniversary.

The earlier train left the Summit.

Our happy couple celebrating their Firsst Anniversary.

The train that would return our happy couple to Mainitou Springs. We reboarded the train.

The view out of the front of our trainset. Our conductor said "Highball" and we were on the way down the mountain.

A view of where we had been.

Another train load of passengers coming up to Pikes Peak. We returned to the Manitou Springs Base Station.

Car 24 would take another load of passengers to Pike's Peak.

The snowplow that keeps this railroad open year-round.

My last view of Pike's Peak Cog Railway. It had been a wonderful first anniversary trip aboard the Manitou and Pike's Peak Cog Railway. From here we drove out of Manitou Springs through the traffic to Colorado Springs then down Interstate 25 to Exit 110 where we made our first stop on the way to Chama.

The Pinon Santa Fe station. We then we drove to the Texas Roadhouse in Pueblo where we had our first anniversary linner. Afterward, we continued the drive south to Walsenburg, turned onto US 160 and drove to La Veta Pass. Taking unpaved County Road 443, we drove until we found the object of our search.

The Denver and Rio Grande Western narrow gauge station in La Veta Pass built in 1877. This is on the National Register of Historic Places and is how we found it.

The La Veta Pass schoolhouse.

A rainbow to the east of us as I drove to Antonio. Elizabeth took over driving and drove us the rest of the way to Chama, where we checked into the Chama Hotel and Shops for the next two nights. It had been a great first anniversary for Elizabeth and I today. We called it a night and went to bed.