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The Pike's Peak Cog Railway is the highest in North America, and services began in 1891. The trains run from the historic depot at the base of Pike's Peak, which is at an elevation of 6571 feet. The line goes along Ruxton Creek, in Englemann Canyon, before passing the Minnehaha Falls. Climbing all the while, the route passes through Deer Park. Shortly after this, Lake Moraine and Mount Almagre dominate the views before the trains reach the top, just over eight miles from the base.
Diesel traction was introduced to the railway in the late 1930s, and the coaches used today are designed to maximise the views.
The Pikes Peak Cog Railway is the highest railway in North
America, making the journey 14,115 feet from its base station in
Manitou Springs, to Pikes Peak summit - atop the famous Rocky
Mountains in Colorado. The ride delivers magnificent views as the
train traverses the stunning mountainous terrain, passing rugged
creeks, plunging ravines, thick forests and enchanting waterfalls,
before finally reaching its mountaintop destination.
Pikes Peak summit itself was the source of inspiration for the railway; unlike many historical railways, which originated as working trains before being repurposed as tourist passenger trains, Pikes Peak Railway was built, and is still operated today for the tourist trade. The Manitou and Pikes Peak Railway Company was founded in 1889 by Zalmon G. Simmons, a tourist visiting the region who, after a two-day mule ride to the summit, found himself captivated by the scenery and decided it was worthy of a faster and more comfortable journey. Engines for the line began to arrive the next year: a total of six engines were in service during the steam era of the late 19th century, with engine #4 still operational today, albeit making only infrequent, short trips along the line with a restored coach. The first passenger train departed on June 30th 1891, carrying a church choir from Denver, and the line has been in continuous operation ever since. After the introduction of gasoline and diesel powered locomotives in the 1930s, the railway company introduced engine #7. The engine was built as a cheaper substitute to the steam locomotives of the time, carrying a much smaller amount of passengers through the lower season. It is purported that engine #7 was the first rack railcar ever built, and impressively, it is still operational on the track today.
Passengers travelling on the railway in the present day are treated to a 3-hour round trip as the train ascends over 14,000 feet to the summit of Pikes Peak, providing passengers with outstanding views of the surrounding area. The track travels along Ruxton Creek in Englemann Canyon, before passing the Minnehaha Falls. Climbing all the while, the route passes through Deer Park. Shortly after this, Lake Moraine and Mount Almagre dominate the views before the trains reach the top, just over eight miles from their starting point. Once the train ascends through the tree line, passengers enjoy magnificent panoramic views of the vast landscape from huge windows in the red vintage carriages, as the train completes the last stretch of its journey to the summit. Here, passengers have 30-40 minutes in which to explore the summit's visitor centres, or perhaps sample the famous summit house doughnuts and hot chocolate, all the while taking in the captivating views from a vantage point so high that on a clear day the curvature of the earth is visible.
Passengers are reminded that there are no restroom facilities on board, nor do the carriages have heating or air conditioning. Appropriate dress for the season should be considered as well as an extra layer for warmth at the summit, which can reach much lower temperatures than of those on the ground.
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