COBWEB CORNERS: The other Incline
By Mel McFarland
Some time ago I mentioned Manitou's other incline railway. Lets take a look at it today. Mt. Manitou sits west of downtown, with a grand view of out to Kansas. Red Mountain sits on the south side of Manitou, just below Crystal Park, with not as grand a view of the east, but a better view of Ute Pass and to the north.
The Red Mountain Incline Company was formed in 1911 to build a cable railway to the top of Red Mountain. Richard Clough and Son, a local builder, was contracted to build the steep road. Clough came from a contractor family. His father and Uncles had a company that helped build the Colorado Midland Railway, Colorado Springs' reservoirs at Lake Moraine, and the Midland Terminal Railway so this kind of project was different, but not new. Work started in January, 1912. The road would have a station on Ruxton Avenue, about half way up near the Catholic Church. It would go straight to the top of Red Mountain, passing over the Colorado Midland Tunnel number one. A pavilion was planned for the top of the line. This led to the start of one of Manitou's most unusual traditions, but I'll talk about that later. Officers of the railway company were D. H. Rupp, R. D. Weir, T. J. Sandford and James A. Sevitz.
The work took about eight months and it opened in the late summer. There was a long steep bridge as part of the line and a big electric sign was mounted on its side, proclaiming the name of the railroad. It was the first truly big electric advertisement in the area. But the Red Mountain Incline proved to be too scary for most. The bridgework was the truly frightening part. The structure made the trip more interesting since it was way above the ground. Many refused to ride down on the cars and walked the steep trail down from the pavilion. Within a few years the Incline was closed. The line was offered to the Midland for scrap, but they decided it wasn't worth the effort. The structure was eventually torn down, but I hear there are still bits of iron along its route. You can plainly see the foundation for the mechanical plant that was at the top of Red Mountain. Previously, the summit had been where Emma Crawford was buried, and as a result the Incline builders found a new gravesite for her. It was not as secure, and it eventually washed down the mountain! This was the event that inspired Manitou's modern-day coffin races!