COBWEB CORNERS: The road up the Peak from the north
By Mel McFarland
I wrote several months ago about the three competing routes to the summit of Pikes Peak after the Army weather station closed in 1887.
Two were started from the south, using Englemann Canyon. One became the cog railroad line. The other was by William Hook, a photographer living in Artists Glen. I recently learned more about the trail from the north.
The Colorado Midland Railway was being built up Ute Pass in 1887. The railway made sure there were stations on the way, resulting in several towns in Ute Pass. Soon hotels were being built to cater to summer visitors. In Cascade, then called Cascade Canyon, a number of families bought property near the railroad. The Cusack family of Chicago bought some of the most valuable land near Cascade. In a newspaper from that time, I recently found a visitor's name I am quite familiar with.
In the early days of the Colorado Midland, it had an interesting alliance with the Santa Fe railroad. In the 1890s, the Santa Fe would actually own the Midland! The start of the road from Cascade started with this visitor from Kansas. The Midland had just finished building up Ute Pass when the Pikes Peak Toll Road company was incorporated. The company surveyed from Cascade to the summit's weather station. The problem was that the Army would not let the road be build on its land!
The investors in the Pikes Peak Toll Road were mainly from Kansas. The visitor, who was one of the road's major backers, was Cyrus K. Holliday, the major owner of the Santa Fe! Several other officers in the Santa Fe invested in the toll road too. The railroad even advertised it as the best road up the mountain, once it was complete. The main office of the toll road would be in Emporia, Kansas. The construction started before the Army left. Crews worked on the Army land at night so as to not be seen! After the Army was gone, the cog road signed an agreement with the Toll Road Company. The Cascade company advertised a shorter route to the top, plus better accommodations! The hotels in Cascade saw lots of Kansas visitors, and you can tell that by the street names! Years later Spencer Penrose bought this road to the top and improved it.
The trail sponsored by Hook from the south was never finished.