COBWEB CORNERS: A small but controversial railway

By Mel McFarland

       I have researched a number of railroad projects in this area over the years, but when I found this one I was surprised. In April 1901, a group of investors wrote a letter to City Council, outlining a desire to build, “operate, and maintain a miniature railway with the necessary turnouts, station houses, round house, turntables, and water tanks, all in a miniature scale, in the city park otherwise known as Cheyenne Park." The line would cover about a mile and a half of track, eight pounds to the yard, at 15-inch gauge (common for such arrangements). Starting near the end of the Colorado Springs Rapid Transit line that ran to the park, the line would cross South Cheyenne Canyon and the mouth of North Cheyenne Canyon and would require two short tunnels in North Cheyenne Canyon. In addition, the Cheyenne Park Railway would pay a percentage of the fare to the City of Colorado Springs, as well as maintain a clean and well-tended track.
       The council at first tabled the whole plan. One of the backers of the little railway was Judge Kerr, a prominent promoter. He had been one of the backers of the projected railway to the top of Pike's Peak in the 1880s. Other investors were from Kansas and lived in Manitou and Cascade in the summer.
       Many of the property owners near the park were against the plan. They assembled a petition of protest. They mainly opposed attracting visitors to the relatively secluded area. Smoke was another objection, but the railway countered by pointing out that their plan was to use coal that produced only limited smoke.
       The newspapers carried comments from both sides. The editor of one paper said it was making a monster out of a mouse. Another asserted that anyone with a cigar would produce more smoke that the little train. In the end, the supporters of the miniature railway bowed to their objectors and withdrew their plan.