I jumped the gun a bit, we won't be in Fort Collins tonight we are heading for Manitou Springs on the western edge of Colorado Springs. Jack worked out for us to see the Cliff Dwelling Museum, Cave of the Winds and Pikes Peak Cog Railway.
We visited the antique stores in Walsenburg this morning after breaky at George's Drive-Inn Diner. Found a nice shaped key for the 'liquor cabinet' for future wearing of my Victorian 1886 Reception gown and found a pair of shoe clips for another gown.
Ever wondered where the saying “when your numbers up” came from? Well in Walsenburg all is explained. It was from the mining era and when the miners did not return that had been caught underground in a blast etc.
Coming in to Manitou Springs, the historic district is absolutely beautiful and looking forward to exploring this place. I could just imagine how picturesque it could be during winter and the snow!
We managed to get onto the Pikes Peak Cog Railway on standby for the 1.20pm ride. The cog railway system is actually a Roman invention. It pulls up the mountain quite well considering the elevation. Manitou Springs sits at 6,412ft and at Pikes Peak, finishing at 14,115ft at the summit. At the beginning of the trip it was a little cloudy and 64F/17.7C we had a slight snow flurry on the way up with it gradually clearing to blue skies and sunshine.
After the switching at Minnehaha it hits a 25% grade incline.
Pikes peak at 'The Half Way House' where you could stay for $10 a week and had a post office and a one lane bowling alley in the hotel. Was there in the early 1900's however was burnt down in the late 1800's early 1900's.
The small power plant (a hydro electric plant) used to have a caretaker living in the house, you can just see the plant through the trees, it still serves 200 homes in Manitou.
Pikes Peak is the 31st highest of the 55 'fourteeners' in Colorado. 1.4mill acres forms Pike National Park.
It was a $5 trip in 1895. The original idea for the railway after Zalmon Simmons made a 3 day trek up the peak on a mule to enjoy the views and to see how his invention of insulators for the telegraph were going for the Army Telegraph to the summit. He thought it was so beautiful that no one would want to ride up on a burrow and within 3 years had funded the idea and had the railway built. There've been running the train for 121years now and is still the original tracks. The first train run to the top was August 16, 1890.
At a certain point the trees will not grow, it's due to turbo frost where the ground is always frozen and all you can see is bare hill AND it's claim to fame is the hill in the Sound of Music where Julie Andrews twirls around atop of it. (The hilllllls are alive, with the sound of music – although my version in my head is the Moulin Rouge version)
There is also a gold mine situated here but you can't see it from the tracks, it is owned by foreigners and produces $800,000 worth of gold a day! It is one of the biggest gold mines in the US.
There is only one naturally occurring lake on the side of Pikes Peak. The others are all man made. This is the longest and highest cog railway in the US. The top of the train as it pulls up is 3 stories higher than the bottom. And we are now at 12,129ft at Windy Point. The grass only grows 1-3″ every 100 years. Guess you wouldn't have to mow very often! Lol!
And we thought we had fun just making a dam larger in Canberra, try making one at around 13,000ft! This one is man made. Would have been a job just getting the machinery up here!
Check out the snow too, and a few mountain goats just hanging out!
We finally reached the summit and got a short break for their world famous donuts, recipe perfected at that altitude apparently and I must say the chocolate vanilla cappucino was divine! We felt a little bit 'floaty' due to the altitude but otherwise fine. Fantastic experience and highly recommend it!!! 42F/5.5C with wind chill of 36F/2.2C.
The braking system for the trip back down is good and if the driver goes a little too fast the computer kicks in with the assisted brakes. Phew! Nice to know, although the girl doing the commentary said “if that doesn't work we have two springs at the bottom to stop us – Manitou and Colorado.” Comforting? Not! Lol!
The cloud really rolled in as we were leaving and as the next train pulled up, so we caught a lucky break, maybe it will be sunny at the bottom now.
Found a spot to sleep, Pikes Peak Inn, within walking distance of the shops, shops and more shops and restaurants. We stopped at The Keg Bar and Grill and had a Boulder Beer – Shake Chocolate Porter for me, yum! Hints of chocolate and caramel, like a Guinness thickness. Jack had a Buffalo Gold Premium Ale.
Wandered a few more shops that were open, haa! And just had to take a pic outside the hemp shop, don't worry it's only an unlit cigar Jack has.
Wandered back down the road and we are at the Stagecoach Inn for beers and dinner and only have to stumble spittin' distance to the motel. We have jazz in the park across the road while we sit here as well.
What a great day!