Pikes Peak Cog Railway

By
Real Estate Agent with Falcon Property Company

History

In the late 1880s, Zalmon Simmons visited the Pikes Peak Region to check on one of his inventions. Not only was he the inventor of what we now know as the Simmons Beautyrest Mattress Company, Mr. Simmons invented an insulator for telegraph wires that were being used on the summit of Pikes Peak. After a gruelling two-day trek to the 14,110 foot Peak on a mule, Mr. Simmons was relaxing in a mineral bath in Manitou Springs when someone mentioned how nice it would be if there was a train to the top. The inventor’s brain went into overdrive, and the Pikes Peak Cog Railway was conceived.

Being a man of action, track construction began right away using 150 Italian laborers transporting materials via wheelbarrows and mules. Three steam locomotives were ordered and delivered by 1890. The first passenger train arrived at the summit of Pikes Peak in June 1891. During the era of steam, a total of six engines were ordered. The locomotives were not connected to the coaches, but pushed the train cars up the mountain (pictured on the plaque below), and preceded them on the descent to regulate the speed. It was expensive and inefficient.

In 1925, after losing money for many years, Mr. Simmons sold the Pikes Peak Cog Railway to Spencer Penrose, owner of The Broadmoor Hotel, for $50,000. To this day, The Broadmoor Hotel still owns the Railway. Locomotive #5 is on permanent display at The Broadmoor Hotel. Engine #2 sits on the northeast corner of Manitou Avenue and Deer Path Avenue in Manitou Springs.

End of the Line and Back on Track

In 1938, the first-of-its kind gas-powered, twenty-three-passenger rack-rail car made its maiden run up Pikes Peak. The following year, General Electric delivered the world’s first diesel-electric cog locomotive.

Engine #5 of the Pikes Peak Cog Railway now housed permanently at The Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs

Over the next seventy-eight years, technology would advance and tourism would increase. The Pikes Peak Cog Railway kept pace with the demand, running eight adventures per day up and down the mountain. In 2017, more than 300,000 visitors rode the rails to the top. But with safety concerns over the 126-year-old tracks and the now-dated equipment, The Broadmoor Hotel decided not to reopen for the 2018 season. It was not only a blow to tourism, but had a severe economic impact on the quaint town of Manitou Springs.

Three years and $100 million later, the Pikes Peak Cog Railway is back on track. With new tracks and cars imported from Switzerland, the glorious ride to the summit of America’s Mountain is back in operation. Hundreds of sightseers take the exciting trip to the Peak each week.

Tickets are often sold out weeks-to-months in advance. If you are planning a visit to the Pikes Peak Region, reserve your seats before you get here if at all possible. It’s worth the time and expense for this once-in-a-lifetime experience. It would be a shame to miss it if it could have been prevented.

Cog Railway Tickets

Pikes Peak Cog Railway information

ADVICE FROM A LOCAL: Pay the extra $10 and get a reserved seat – FACING FORWARD. Trust me on this. Just do it! Purchase tickets to the Pikes Peak Cog Railway here. Check out availability on the calendar and get a FORWARD FACING SEAT.

General seating for children 3 – 12 is $48. Reserved seating (get FORWARD FACING) tickets for children 3 – 12 are $58. General seating for adults is $58. Reserved seating (get FORWARD FACING) tickets are $68. Bring extra money for the railway station and the Visitor’s Center at the Peak.

FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE PIKES PEAK COG RAILWAY, visit their website (Manitou and Pikes Peak Cog Railway). You may also call (719) 685-5401 or email info@cograilway.com.

There are many ways to access the railway station. There is a parking lot outside the station off Ruxton Avenue in Manitou. A round-trip on the Pikes Peak Cog Railway lasts approximately three hours (one hour ten minutes up and back, and forty minutes at the new Visitor Center at the top of Pikes Peak). For a $10 charge for 4.5 hours, you can park in the station’s parking lot. Or you can ride the designated City bus from town. There are also free shuttles from parking lots east of downtown Manitou Springs that will take visitors to the railway station.

Be sure to eat before you go, or take a snack. Lines are long and the food mediocre. And the long lines extend to the gift shop as well. There is not anything at the gift shop at the Peak that you can’t purchase at the Railway Depot, so revel in the moment and soak up the nature of being above 14,000 feet. You have forty minutes to savor the scenery, take photos, and experience what you took the trip for. Don’t waste it waiting to buy items that are easily accessible at the Depot. (But there are plenty of restrooms, so those lines shouldn’t be long.)

station at the Pikes Peak Cog Railway

High Altitude

Before you go, gather all of your patience. And then borrow some from your neighbors. It will be slow. It will be busy. There will be lines. Go with the attitude of an adventure and you’ll be fine.

If at all possible, hydrate yourself well for days beforehand. It is best if you not have alcohol before you leave as it worsens the effects of Altitude Sickness. The summit of Pikes Peak has 41% less oxygen than where you started from. Take water! When you’re above 14,000 feet, you can get dizzy or get a headache. Water and ibuprofen are two of the fastest ways to take care of that.

I’d love to hear about your experience. And if you’re here looking to move, be sure to contact me. I’ve been selling real estate in the Pikes Peak area for decades, and I’d be glad to discuss your particular housing needs with you. ENJOY!

Plaque of Engine #5 of the Pikes Peak Cog Railway currently at The Broadmoor Hotel

Comments (14)

Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393

Hello Mimi - a comprehensive look at something I had a vague recollection of once learning but never with this kind of detail.  Thank you for sharing.  

Jul 05, 2022 08:38 AM
Mimi Foster

Thanks, Michael. It's such a fun trip!

Jul 05, 2022 04:12 PM
Grant Schneider
Performance Development Strategies - Armonk, NY
Your Coach Helping You Create Successful Outcomes

Hi Mimi - thank you for the history of the cog.  I think my parents went up the cog as did my grandmother.  It is still on my bucket list.

Jul 05, 2022 09:15 AM
Mimi Foster

It's well worth it if you're ever in the area. I will never do the drive again because it's nothing but cliffs and nail-biting-angst, but the Cog is so much fun!

Jul 05, 2022 04:12 PM
Nina Hollander, Broker
Coldwell Banker Realty - Charlotte, NC
Your Greater Charlotte Realtor

Hi Mimi... I'm going to put this on my list of things to do one of the next times I'm in Colorado to visit kids and grandkids.

Jul 05, 2022 10:20 AM
Mimi Foster

Such an enjoyable trip, Nina. Worth the time and the price.

Jul 05, 2022 04:13 PM
Bill Salvatore - East Valley
Arizona Elite Properties - Chandler, AZ
Realtor - 602-999-0952 / em: golfArizona@cox.net

Thank you for sharing the information. Buyers and sellers in your area will benefit from your expertise. Wishing you continued success.  Have a wonderful day and sell a house.  bill

Jul 05, 2022 10:38 AM
Mimi Foster

Thanks for stopping by, Bill. And thank you. I did. 😇

Jul 05, 2022 04:14 PM
Kathy Streib
Cypress, TX
Home Stager/Redesign

Mimi- I loved all of the information you provided on the Pikes Peak Cog Railway but what I really appreciated was your insider's take on how to take this trip...pay extra for a forward facing seat and you can buy the same gifts at the Railway Depot! This is the kind of information that's truly helpful. 

(That said...I've horribly afraid of heights so send me photos!) LOL

Jul 05, 2022 05:45 PM
Mimi Foster

The nice thing about the Cog, Kathy, is it doesn't activate the height fear - with which I am intimately familiar. Driving, on the other hand, is a nail biter and I'd never voluntarily do it again, but the Cog is a great ride. Thanks for stopping by!

Jul 06, 2022 10:52 AM
Kat Palmiotti
406-270-3667, kat@thehousekat.com, Broker/REALTOR® - Kalispell, MT
Helping your Montana dreams take root

That sounds like a fantastic ride! Thank you for all the information. If i"m ever in the area, I'll have to check it out!

Jul 06, 2022 04:52 AM
Mimi Foster

A fun day, indeed, Kat!

Jul 06, 2022 10:53 AM
Carla Freund
Keller Williams Preferred Realty - Raleigh, NC
Carolina Life RealEstate & Relocation 919-602-8489

Hi Mimi, Great information for those interested in checking out Pikes Peak!

Jul 06, 2022 08:06 AM
Mimi Foster

Thanks, Carla. Hope you're well!

Jul 06, 2022 10:53 AM
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

I've seen the bumper stickers on cars about having climbed to the top of Pike's Peak.  But I've never known to look for one on trains.  I'll have to pay more attention from now on! 

(Will the sticker be on the caboose?)

Jul 09, 2022 04:51 AM
Mimi Foster

I thought you were too old to still be driving. Can you tell the difference between the caboose and the engine at your advanced age? Hope you're well, old man. Thanks for stopping by.

Jul 09, 2022 09:39 AM
Kathy Streib
Cypress, TX
Home Stager/Redesign

Jul 09, 2022 07:44 PM
Mimi Foster

Thanks, Kathy!

Jul 10, 2022 03:18 PM
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

I still drive people crazy, and hopefully never too old for that.  And as to knowing the different between the engine and the caboose, I´m having the right side of my caboose structure replaced mañana de mañana.  If all goes well I´ll be back to driving people crazy ya mismo.

Jul 10, 2022 04:17 AM
Mimi Foster

Hope all goes well and that we see you back soon!

Jul 10, 2022 03:19 PM
Wayne Martin
Wayne M Martin - Chicago, IL
Real Estate Broker - Retired

Good morning Mimi. What a wonderful adventure. If I get that way, I would ante up for the forward facing seat for sure! Enjoy your day.

Jul 10, 2022 05:16 AM
Mimi Foster

An enjoyable day, to be sure, Wayne! Hope you're well!

Jul 10, 2022 03:17 PM
Dorie Dillard Austin TX
Coldwell Banker Realty ~ 512.750.6899 - Austin, TX
NW Austin ~ Canyon Creek and Spicewood/Balcones

Good afternoon Mimi,

OMG..I'm so glad that Kathy Streib featured your post in her "Ah-Ha" moments for the week as I missed your post. What a comprehensive look at The Pikes Peak Cog Railway!  I have a vague recollection of once learning something in my history class but never with this kind of detail and from the point of a local. Such great advice; especially on how to take this trip...pay extra for a forward facing seat and you can buy the same gifts at the Railway Depot!

Jul 11, 2022 01:56 PM
Mimi Foster

Hey, Dorie! If you ever come to COS, we'll plan a day trip! 😘😉

Jul 11, 2022 02:23 PM
Ed Silva
Mapleridge Realty, CT 203-206-0754 - Waterbury, CT
Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally

What a great read and sounds like such a fun excursion to the town and the hotel.  Something to put on the bucket list

Jul 11, 2022 03:28 PM
Jim Patton
Aspire Home Real Estate 209-404-0816 - Modesto, CA
Realtor - Stanislaus ,Merced, San Joaquin Counties

That looks like a great ride Mimi Foster.  I love trains and I love the mountains so i guess I would love this.

Aug 24, 2022 06:27 PM
Mimi Foster

It truly is a magical trip, Jim. Definitely worth it if you're ever in the area. 

Aug 25, 2022 11:28 AM