COBWEB CORNERS: The view from the top
By Mel McFarland
Working on the cog railroad has its moments. I have collected some favorite stories about events on Pikes Peak as well as on the train. In fact, it does not take much time on the mountain to collect some quite interesting tales. For those of you who have ridden the train, there are usually two crew people - an engineer and a conductor. The engineer drives the train, and most of the summer that is what I do. The conductor collects tickets and does an entertaining talk on the way up. In the spring and fall, I occasionally do this job.
On the trip down, the conductor passes through the train answering questions. This is when most good stories start. A few things most of us hear on any day are: "I have lived here all my life and this is my first trip on the train"; "Could you announce a birthday?" and "We just got engaged!"
For that one, I have a reply: "Wonderful, but the special ones get married up here." In a good summer, probably a couple dozen weddings take place on the summit of America's Mountain. Some are quite informal; others are not. There have been special trains for wedding parties, and one area along the tracks has been used for receptions.
The railroad started running to the summit June 30, 1891, and in early October of that year the first known marriage ceremony was performed. Rev J.P. Lucas wed A.B. Frowman and Emma Michael. The ceremony, as most have been since, was on the east side of the summit house. However, in just my time on the mountain, I have seen some extra-special ceremonies. My favorite was the wedding where the temperature was way under zero. The snow was falling, and the wind was blowing, but the couple went ahead with the ceremony on the summit, right in front of the big sign - not retreating to the warmth inside the Summit House until the rings were to be exchanged. They hardly think less of Pikes Peak as a result. They return to the top on their anniversary.
Now those are people who did something with a view. We have some wonderful churches in the area, but I think I know where the grandest spot is.