As the winter starts to get serious, things on the Manitou and Pikes Peak Railway are at an interesting stage. The new track is nearly complete, and only at the summit is work yet to be finished. The four trains that were kept are now back on the tracks and being put in tune. The trains have new engines, transmissions and best of all for the public, all new comfortable seats!
The work on the Manitou station is taking on a serious tone as building construction is the order of the day. The parking lots in Manitou are starting to regain their normal look and the added shelters have gone away. The area is abuzz with activity as they try to get things out of the weather. In February, as many of you know, our snow season gets serious. The same is true up at the new summit house. Up there work inside is done in the winter ... when workmen can get there.
The Manitou building work is being done in a classic style, fitting for a century old railway. The main feature is added room for loading and unloading the expected crowds. Up the track a ways is the extension of the shop building. It will allow the railway to keep all of the equipment indoors when not in service. The new Swiss equipment is being completed and by the time it gets here the buildings will be ready. Nine new passenger cars and three new locomotives are in the order. In addition, a new snow clearing machine could be on it’s way. Crews from the railway are in Switzerland learning the ins and outs of keeping the machines in fine form. It will take a while to get the new equipment across the ocean, but I think the snow equipment will be needed whenever it arrives.
The scheduled reopening in May is looking very promising. Once the train gets through this next few months of construction, a finish line is coming. I hope we all will be healthy and able to enjoy a friendly trip up to the top of the mountain.
E.M. “Mel” McFarland is an artist, historian and railroad enthusiast. He is a Pikes Peak region native and has written a handful of books and guides highlighting the area’s rich history. Contact Mel at email@example.com.