Construction on the new Broadmoor Manitou and Pikes Peak Cog Railway is now halfway complete and on track to open to the public next spring.
Crews with San Francisco-based railway general contractor Stacy and Witbeck recently completed construction of the second of three passing siding tracks, marking a milestone in the return of one of the region’s most popular tourist attractions, project leaders said.
The newly reconstructed Mountain View passing siding track is roughly halfway up the 9-mile line at the top of Pikes Peak, which descends almost 8,000 feet down the mountain to its depot in Manitou Springs. In June, crews also completed the passing siding track at Windy Point.
“The crews faced one of the toughest stretches of track to construct between these two points, a part of the line we call the ‘Big Hill,’ which is the longest, steepest, and narrowest portion of track,” Ted Johnston, assistant general manager of the railway, said in a written statement.
Crews are expected to reach the third siding location, Minnehaha, by mid-October.
“Getting to the halfway point is a relief and there’s also a lot of excitement,” Johnston said. “A lot is starting to come together.”
Work began in March 2019 on the $100 million project, which includes renovation of the cog railway’s tracks, cogs, railcars and depots. The project is on budget and on schedule, said Broadmoor spokeswoman Krista Heinicke. Construction is expected to wrap up by the end of the year, with the first cog ride set to take place next May.
Since it began ferrying passengers up the scenic trek to America’s Mountain in 1891, the Cog Railway grew into one of the area’s premier tourist attractions. It carried upwards of 2,300 passengers per day before it closed in late 2017 for winter maintenance.
Aging infrastructure and equipment cast doubt on the railway’s future after owner The Broadmoor hotel in Colorado Springs could not guarantee it would reopen while studying the cost of the rebuild.
But full construction of a new Cog Railway went underway when hotel officials struck a tax-incentive deal with the City of Manitou Springs to help finance the project.
Additionally, four trains are being refurbished in the Cog’s Manitou Springs shop and are 90% complete. They will include new floors, seats, a sound system, vinyl wrap and diesel engines, according to a news release. These four trains are also having their axles converted to the new cog system so they can be placed on the new track.
Three new trains are also in production at Stadler Bussnang, a Swiss company.
Renovation on the Manitou Springs Depot is also moving ahead as construction of new restrooms and a new south platform, which will accommodate the addition of a second track that will make it easier to load and unload trains, begins soon. The renovated depot will also include a new gift shop.
“We are thrilled and really excited to see our train take people up to America’s Mountain,” Heinicke said.
“There’s been a lot of excitement from the community,” Johnston said, adding public feedback on the project has been “overwhelmingly positive.”
To follow the Cog’s progress, visit the railway’s new website at cograilway.com.
The Broadmoor hotel and the Cog Railway are owned by the Denver-based Anschutz Corp., whose Clarity Media Group owns The Gazette.