A cog or rack railway uses a gear that meshes into a special rail mounted between the regular rails to climb steep grades. The Manitou and Pikes Peak Railway climbs grades of about 25%. The guided round trip lasts 3 hours 10 minutes and takes passengers first through dense stands of blue spruce and Ponderosa pines, past boulder fields, and beside the Minnehaha Falls. The train goes through a natural gateway as it approaches Deer Park and various landings with mountain views. On its final ascent, it climbs from timberline to tundra.
A brief journey up a steep hill in Manitou Springs takes you to the railway station, which owes its existence to the inventor Zalmon Simmons (Simmons Beautyrest Mattress Company) who financed the venture some time after experiencing Pikes Peak (altitude 14 110 feet) on a mule's back. Six deaths occurred during construction of the railway, but it opened in 1891.
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