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COBWEB CORNERS: A visit from the cog's 1st general manager

By Mel McFarland

       In the early summer of 1939, an elderly gent from Santa Barbara, California, came to Colorado Springs for a visit. About 50 years before, he had worked in Manitou for the cog railway, as its first general manager.
       Originally from Kenosha, just north of Chicago, H.S. Cable was the son of Ransom Cable, president of the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific railroad from 1883 to 1898.
       The Rock Island had been investing in the cog railway from the time that Zalmon Simmons was planning the line up Pikes Peak, which opened for service in 1890.
       The Rock Island had arrived in Colorado Springs one year earlier, mainly to connect with the Colorado Midland.
       The younger Cable was in the area, having been sent west for an education.
       As the cog's first general manager, H.S. Cable lasted on the job several years, spending his winters in Chicago at the office of the Rock Island.
       In his 1939 visit, Cable was introduced to the new and improved cog railway. The old steam locomotives that he had suffered through were being replaced.
       The first few years of the use of the tiny cog locomotives had been trying, to say the least. It would take nearly 20 years before their full capabilities were reached. In 1925, Spencer Penrose purchased the enterprise from the Simmons family. One of his earliest changes was the exploration of lighter, more economical trains. A little gasoline-powered car used half the crew, but carried only a few passengers. A larger set of locomotives was developed and were introduced in the summer of 1939.
       On an invitation from the railway, Cable, who had been retired for nearly five years, came for a look at the old place. He was a guest at the Broadmoor, and visited some of the businessmen from his days on the railway. He was treated to a tour of the railway, but his health would not allow a trip to the summit. Most of his co-workers were gone, but a few Manitou and Colorado Springs men were still around.
       He was then treated to a look at the Rock Island railroad's recent modern touch: a small diesel streamlined train, the Rocky Mountain Rocket. It had cut the time from Chicago to Colorado Springs by an entire day.
       After a few days in the area, Cable returned to his California home.

(Posted 6/6/17; Opinion: Cobweb Corners)

       Editor's note: Local historian Mel McFarland has been writing his Cobweb Corners column in the Westside Pioneer since 2004. To see past columns, go to the Pioneer's Archives. Either look for desired articles under the Cobweb Corners category for any year, or search by keywords in the Find box.

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