COBWEB CORNERS: Different ways up the Peak
By Mel McFarland
For many years, the main route up Pikes Peak was the trail used by the summit's weather station. It was lengthy, going up around the southern slope. The station closed in 1887. By 1891, three new routes were under construction. One was a carriage road from Cascade. Another was a trail up Ruxton Creek and Englemann Canyon from Manitou, which William Hook worked on until the the third route, the cog railway, started building in the same area in 1889. Hook fought the cog plan, but the railway still gave him access later to sell pictures to those on the train ride, which provided him, and later photographers, a steady income.
The cog work was supervised by H.S. Cable, who arrived in 1891. His father was president of the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific railroad, which had just reached Colorado Springs from Chicago. A passenger traveling from Chicago could actually go buy a ticket from there to the Top.
The Rock Island was a major investor in the cog road. The price of the ticket was $5, and how was that price decided? That was also the price at the time for the burro ride from Manitou to the summit. This started the controversy as to the best way to get up the mountain. The train ride certainly took much less time and was more comfortable than burros. The carriage road, supported by the Midland, offered special fares for using the Colorado Midland's Cascade eating house. The carriage customers often rode in on a Midland train and ate at the Midland's eating house, then took horse- or mule-drawn carriages to the summit.
A hundred years ago Fred Barr developed a trail for his burros up the east face of the mountain, which cut almost a day off that trip. The 13-mile Barr trail from Manitou is now the most popular foot route.
I did a story a while back about how the Cascade road was upgraded in 1916 to an automobile toll road, thanks to Spencer Penrose. Penrose also bought the cog railway in 1925. That never really ended the idea of competition between the road and the railroad, but until about 20 years ago there was a way to go up on the rails and down on the road, and the other way too!