Take a Trek on the Pikes Peak Train
The Pikes Peak Cog Railway holds a unique distinction as the highest cog railway in the world. Wonder how this legendary Pikes Peak train came to take visitors to the top of America’s Mountain? One of the tourists who visited the Pikes Peak region in the late 1880s was Zalmon Simmons, inventor and founder of the Simmons Beautyrest Mattress Company. Mr. Simmons rode to the summit of Pikes Peak on a mule. The arduous, two day trip was the only way to reach the top in those days. Mr. Simmons was awed by the scenery but determined that the views should be experienced in a more civilized and comfortable manner.
In 1889, the Manitou & Pike's Peak Railway Company was founded and track construction began. Top wages were 25 cents per hour. Six workers died in blasting and construction accidents. On the afternoon of June 30th, 1891, the first passenger Pikes Peak train, carrying a church choir from Denver, made it to the summit. Spencer Penrose, owner of The Broadmoor Hotel, acquired the Railway in 1925.
The first third of the Pikes Peak train trip is along Ruxton Creek. Here the steep track follows a cascading stream through dense stands of spruce and Ponderosa pine trees. It is estimated that some trees on Pikes Peak are over 2000 years old. The middle third of the trip is on a gentler grade. Right below the old settlement of Ruxton Park, the train passes through what is known as "Hell Gate", a natural gateway in the mountains. Then the track passes over the Four Mile Siding and get our first glimpse of Pikes Peak!
Once the Pikes Peak Cog Railway climbs above timberline, the views become more expansive. Here passengers frequently see yellow-bellied marmots and Bighorn sheep. Pikes Peak is home to one of the largest herds of Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep in Colorado. To the east stretch the Great Plains beyond the border of Kansas. To the south, the Sangre de Christo Range stretches to New Mexico.