Sunday, August 12, 2012

Chugging along at 14000 Feet

This seems to be the year when I do things I've always put off until next time.  Many times I've been in the Pikes Peak area and this time I finally took the Cog Railway to the top.  I expected it to look like the one going up Mt. Washington in New Hampshire

And years ago the Pikes Peak Cog Train did look very similar.  Now it looks more like a trolley car and runs on diesel.

We left from Manitou Springs at 6571 feet in elevation.  Soon we passed Minnehaha Falls, a waterfall higher than Niagara Falls.  Of course that would be in elevation, not how far the water falls.

Soon we were out of the trees and admiring the views.

The descending trains pulled off onto a siding so we could maintain our momentum.

Much of the grade was 25% - a gain of one foot in elevation for every four feet traveled.  Hard to imagine.  The last three miles are all above timberline and we saw big horn sheep with a gorgeous ram that proudly posed for the people on the other side of the car.  I was too much in awe to even try for a picture of him, but here's a shot of the car in front of us.

After 8.9 miles, we reached the summit at 14,110 feet where it was a chilly 45 degrees.

In 1893, Katherine Lee Bates wrote the words for America the Beautiful after seeing the view from the summit of Pikes Peak.

I finally remembered to take a picture of the train.

For those of you interested in the mechanics, here is an actual-sized cog wheel with a section of the rack rails (which mesh with the cog) and t-rails, all positioned with the 25% grade.  Cool, huh?

Here's some of the track itself.

It was an interesting ride and worth the money at $35, but I wish the weather had been better.  I would advise doing it in early summer when it doesn't cloud up every day.  Also there would still be snow on the mountains for more spectacular scenery.  Of course that's just my opinion.


  1. We did that a few years back. Awesome trip. We saw a Llama up near the top where you saw the other animals.

  2. Looks a great ride and its always worth the money as it keeps these historical engines going.

  3. Very cool - in more ways than one!

  4. I've never seen a cog train before! Very both sisters climbed mountains both inspire me. Your photos are lovely...I can only imagine that ram I bet he was something to see!!

  5. Neat trip; haven't done the Cog Rail on Mt Washington yet either ... has always been on the list, and I'll add this one, too.

  6. Really cool and I'm not talking about the weather. :c)