COBWEB CORNERS: The first cog locomotive
By Mel McFarland
When the Pike's Peak cog was built, it was the eighth in the world. The Mount Wash-ington in New Hampshire was the first. The others, except for one, were in Europe. At the start, the plan was to build a station at the top, separate from the old weather station. At the bottom would be another grand hotel.
For the cog, three locomotives of a unique hill-climbing design were built in Philadelphia by the Baldwin company. The rack rails and "chairs" for the track were built to order by Johnson Works of Johnstown, Pennsylvania. The chairs hold the rack rail in place on every other tie.
The first cog locomotive, named "John Hulbert," arrived May 24, 1890, on a car built just for delivery of locomotives. The novel tractive gear was quite unfamiliar. According to a Gazette article (quoting Manitou's Pikes Peak Journal), "On the underside of the engine are three heavy steel drums, each bearing two rows of pinions set alternately, which will fit in the depressions on the center rails and by them the train will be pulled up the grade. The power from the cylinders will be applied directly to a fourth drum above the two rear drivers… The front driver is moved by means of a walking beam extending from the second driver."
The engine had two side tanks for water and a coal box at the rear. The engine would push the cars up the track and eliminate coupling problems. It was thought to be powerful enough to handle three or four cars.
Mr. C.D. Herman of Baldwin came with the engine and supervised its set-up and initial operation. A few days later, the Gazette/Journal described the Iron Springs track on the Midland as "a novel sight… The Pike's Peak engine has been dismounted from its truck and stands on its own wheels at the foot of the grade in position for its task. The rails, bridge iron, wheel barrows and tools for construction have been unloaded and stacked up on every hand."
The other two engines would arrive some weeks later. We will pause here, and come back for more progress later!