The Local newsletter is your free, daily guide to life in Colorado. For locals, by locals. Sign up today!
All the best trains arrive on time. Still, when the Broadmoor Manitou and Pikes Peak Cog Railway closed for renovations in spring 2018 and the owners set a hard deadline for reopening, punctuality seemed implausible. The goal? May 2021, a month before the icon—the train has carried visitors up the 14,115-foot mountain since 1891—celebrates its 130th birthday. Workers would have just three years to demolish and rebuild nine miles of track that gain 7,795 feet in elevation as they wind from the Manitou Springs depot to the summit. And because the slope couldn’t always support machinery, they’d have to do much of the labor by hand. “It was backbreaking work, then and now,” says general manager Spencer Wren. Today’s crew had an advantage: The railway is in billionaire Philip Anschutz’s portfolio, and the Anschutz organization invested $100 million in new track and refurbishing the historic train cars and the depot. The city of Colorado Springs rebuilt the summit’s visitor center, too, adding an outdoor dining terrace and exhibits detailing the peak’s history, geography, and conservation initiatives. Yet when tourists board the train again on May 1, they’ll be treated to the same views over Colorado—proving some things are timeless.