By Kelly Werthmann
MANITOU SPRINGS, Colo. (CBS4)– The future of the Pikes Peak Cog Railway may go off the rails.
The historic railway closed in early winter for maintenance, so engineers could take advantage of the slower season. However, crews soon realized more serious repairs were needed on the 127-year-old train, which is owned by The Broadmoor. A big problem – many of the parts aren’t made anymore.
“We realized that we had to bring in experts to really examine what was happening,” Allison Scott, Director of Communications for The Broadmoor, told CBS4’s Kelly Werthmann.
The railway has been safely taking visitors on the nearly nine-mile trip from the base of Pikes Peak to the 14,110-foot summit and back since 1891. Scott pointed out the railways has a perfect safety record in its 127-year history.
“Now, as we start to look at everything, we are seeing things that were past their useful life,” she said.
Owners and staff at the Pikes Peak Cog Railway are now trying to determine their next move – that could mean a permanent shutdown of the historic train.
“It’s scary,” General Manager Spencer Wren said. “It’s scary that there is a chance it may not reopen.”
Wren explained the engineers who specialize in the type of cog railway that’s in Manitou Springs are based in Europe. That only adds to the logistical challenge, he said, and the fact they recommend a full-blown remodel of the train, tracks and depot.
“The Swiss recommended electrification of the train,” he said. “Is that doable? We don’t know if that’s doable.”
A review of the railway has been launched, which could take two to three years to complete. As of now, the Pikes Peak Cog Railway is closed for the foreseeable future.
“All of our employees are being kept on,” Wren said. “There’s still a lot of work to do maintaining the trains and stuff along the line that we can keep up with. Until a final decision is made, we’re still here working.”
For visitors, however, many are disappointed they cannot take a ride on one of Colorado’s iconic treasures.
“This is part of the attraction to come to Colorado. It’s a way for people who might never get to the top of a fourteener to get to the top of America’s Mountain,” David Adair said. “It’s a great loss if they just shut down for two or three years. It’s an even bigger loss if they never reopen.”
Another visitor to Manitou Springs said she was really hoping to take her young kids on the cog train this summer.
“It’s depressing really,” Stephanie Rawlings said. “It’s sad for all of Manitou Springs.”
While he is sad to disappoint visitors now, Wren is holding out hope for the historic train. He’s also keeping in mind how important the Pikes Peak Cog Railway is to the local economy.
“We’re very popular and we’re growing in popularity,” he said. “It’s a huge logistics problem we’re trying to solve.”
As staff determine what’s best for the cog railway, they want the public to stay in the loop with the process. For those interested staying on track of what’s happening to the Pikes Peak Cog Railway, Scott encourages them to send an email to email@example.com.
Kelly Werthmann joined the CBS4 team as the morning reporter in 2012. After serving as weekend morning anchor, Kelly is now Covering Colorado First for CBS4 News at 10. Connect with Kelly on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @KellyCBS4.