COBWEB CORNERS: The cog starts running

By Mel McFarland

       In late summer 1890 the cog railroad was nearly finished, and so was the arrangement for the land at the summit of Pike's Peak. The old signal station would serve as the train station.
       The coaches arrived the next week, and trains began taking the curious all the way to Half Way House. Plans were made for two trains in the morning and afternoon as far as the work permitted.
       From the Half Way House, tourists could ride horses to the summit and return. The morning train started at 8 am. The afternoon train left at 3.
       As work continued toward the summit, trainloads of equipment, track supplies, and other materials ran up the canyon to the end of the track, occasionally requiring cancelation of passenger runs. The rails reached the summit on the 26th of October. A month later, after finishing work on the line, the last construction crews broke camp. It was decided to wait for spring before attempting to get passengers to the summit.
       During the winter, some work was done at Manitou and in the canyon. In June 1891, a special train with H.S. Cable, superintendent of the line, and friends went up as far as Windy Point. Snow still blocked the line from there, but crews hiked to the top in preparation for the arrival of the first train. The weather station needed work to make it ready for visitors. It had not been used in quite a while, but was in reasonably good condition. It was decided to keep the formal opening of the line as casual as possible, with perhaps a more formal dedication later.
       Soon trains were taking passengers to the summit several times a day. The schedule required a bit of adjusting to the demands of the mountain as well as to the customers. A mid-day train was proving to be quite unpopular, as it did not provide enough time for leisurely passengers! The four-hour trip worked best in the morning, but not every potential passenger could get on the train. The hotels in Manitou were quite happy to see the number of passengers, because they reserved rooms! The Iron Springs Hotel, just across the street from the station, was the most convenient. By the first big snowfall at the end of 1891's season, the railroad was in full operation, with a bright outlook for the next summer.