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COBWEB CORNERS: New year's cog to the summit in 1936 - What could possibly go wrong?

By Mel McFarland

       In 2006, the cog railway expanded to operate all year round. Some days worked for making the summit, others, NO! Now the trains do not try to get to the summit in the winter, only going part way up, even when it is nice.
       In 1936 the cog managers got the idea that, since it had been a light winter, why not go up to the summit New Year's night for the AdAmAn Club's fireworks? Talk about this started in early November. A steam engine and coach were ready to go. Normally the railroad started readying its equipment in February or March.
       Christmas in Colorado Springs in 1936 was nice and warm. The cog had about 100 reservations for the New Year's train.
       On the 30th, the AdAmAn hikers gathered at the base of Barr trail for their trip, as usual. That night a storm settled in on the mountain. On the 31st, the conditions at Barr Camp were not really bad, but it was snowing.
       The cog railway prepared a test train and sent it up about 10 a.m. Above timberline the train crew found several inches of snow but continued on. Windy Point lived up to its name. At 8 Mile, things turned for the worst. Drifts blocked the track. A snowplow train was sent up behind them. The two trains met at Windy Point (which has two sets of tracks), and the plow went on ahead.
       The test train returned to Manitou. General Manager Ewing was on the plow train, fighting to push through, but the attempt was abandoned just above 8 Mile, less than a mile from the summit. No trip to the summit tonight.
       Three motorcyclists started up the road at about the time the train left. They were members of the Pikes Peak Comets club. Above Glen Cove, they hit wind and small drifts. The snow was packed hard and they rode over the drifts. Above Devil's Playground, the wind blew hard. A mile below the summit the bikes started to slip on the packed snow. Almost within sight of the top, they decided they could go no further. The snow was coming down hard and was soft enough that the road was trapping their bikes.
       Meanwhile, despite the weather, the AdAmAn group hiked up Barr Trail to the summit. But it was one of those years when no one in Colorado Spring saw more than a slight glow on the mountain when the fireworks went off.

(Posted 7/18/16; Opinion: Cobweb Corners)

       Editor's note: Local historian Mel McFarland has been writing his Cobweb Corners column in the Westside Pioneer since 2004. To see past columns, go to the Pioneer's Archives. Either look for desired articles under the Cobweb Corners category for any year, or search by keywords in the Find box.

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