Pikes Peak Cog Railway
The Pike's Peak Railway is a cog railway that ascends the Pikes Peak mountain located just west of Colorado Springs, Colorado. The base of the railway is located in Manitou Springs. The Pikes Peak Railway is the highest railroad in the US by a considerable margin, climbing to an elevation of 14,115 feet. It was built and is used for the sole purpose of a tourist attraction.
The railway was started by Zalmon G. Simmons, founder of the Simmons Beautyrest Mattress Company. The railway was opened in 1889, with service to the Halfway House Hotel, and extended to the mountain's summit a year later. The railway originally used steam locomotives built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works with steeply inclined boilers to keep the trains level on the steep grades, which averaged 16 percent. Operating these steam locomotives was very costly, so when more modern trains were developed, the railway was quick to adopt them.
In 1938, the company began using a gasoline powered railcar, believed to be the first rack railcar in the world. The train could be run considerably cheaper, enabling the company to save significantly during quieter times of the year. Based on the success of that first gas railcar, the company eventually began using them exclusively. The same car is still used to climb Pikes Peak today, although the outside of the cars have been re-designed several times.
As of 2008, the Pikes Peak Railway owns enough equipment (rail cars and snow plows) to run six to eight trains a day up the mountain between the middle of May and the middle of September. In off-peak months (mid-September through mid-December and mid-March through mid-May), the company runs between one to five trains a day, adding additional trains when the business warrants it. Prior to 2006, the railway was closed at all times between mid-December and mid-March. In 2006, the company began running trains year round, though at significantly reduced schedule during the winter.
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