COBWEB CORNERS: Up on a mountainside

By Mel McFarland

       Every day I get questions about the Mount Manitou Incline. For those of us who rode it, there are pleasant memories. As a kid, I was up on it several times a year. It was built to haul pipe for the water line from Ruxton Park, but once that was finished it seemed a waste to just tear it down. The cars were converted to having seats for people. Later an important change was made. The cars got temporary roofs. People wondered why; they blocked the best part of the view! It was much later that the answer was learned, but the mountain's afternoon rain storms could really be a "soaker" now and then, and even the best curtains could not keep you dry. The picnic area was about the best in the area. If you did not want to bring your own, the snack bar did a good job. Unfortunately, it is not there anymore. In the last days, the cars often went up and down without anyone in the seats. When the rainstorm washed out a huge section of the track, it was not worth the effort to reopen the line. Those who did not ride the Incline may remember what the "big Dipper" was. Do you?
       There was another incline in Manitou. The Red Mountain Incline was built later (around 1910), but it was closer to town. The station was down on Ruxton, a few blocks up from the Loop streetcar station. Red Mountain was not an ideal mountain for an incline, and a large section of it was on a spindly trestle. It crossed over the top of a Midland tunnel. It was the cause of what made Emma Crawford famous. They built a station and bandstand on top of the mountain. The foundation is still there. Emma Crawford had been buried on top of Red Mountain, and when the incline was built they moved her grave to a site that after a few big rainstorms washed away. Her casket and bones washed into the gravel, to be found by some of the Manitou boys. The Red Mountain Incline lacked the good view of the plains, but you could see up Ute Pass. After a few years it closed, and a new operation never appeared. It was a community complaint until most of it was taken down.
       There was to be another incline, which I think would have been fun to ride, but the Cheyenne Mountain Incline was never built. As a joke, there was even the Nob Hill Incline, but you have to know how steep Nob Hill is to appreciate that!
       Oh, the big Dipper? Well, that was the shape of the lights on Mount Manitou!