The new railcars at the Colorado Railroad Museum are just as exciting as a child would be when he or she gets the last railcar needed to complete a toy train set. Only, the railcars at the Colorado …
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The new railcars at the Colorado Railroad Museum are just as exciting as a child would be when he or she gets the last railcar needed to complete a toy train set.
Only, the railcars at the Colorado Railroad Museum are much larger. And they have special historical significance, specific to Colorado.
“It’s really important to preserve this equipment for future generations to see and experience,” said Donald Tallman, executive director of the Colorado Railroad Museum. “They’re important pieces of railroad history in Colorado.”
The Colorado Railroad Museum recently acquired a donation of three historic railcars from the Manitou & Pikes Peak Cog Railway. One is the No. 7, a 24-passenger self-propelled railcar built in Colorado in 1938.
The second and third are a pair — Locomotive No. 9, built in 1946; and Coach #12, a 54-passenger car that was one of a series built in the 1930s through the 1950s. Coach #12 would have been paired with Locomotive No. 9 to be pushed on the cog railway. These two would have taken tourists up-and-down Pikes Peak in the 1950s.
A cog railroad uses a gear, or cog wheel, that runs in the center of the tracks. Cog railways are significant because the train can climb 48 percent grade slopes, compared to standard railways where the trains can climb only four-to-six percent grades.
With the recently acquired cars, the Colorado Railroad Museum now has a complete set of cog railway cars, Tallman said. The museum acquired Steam Engine No. 1 in 1979. Built in 1893, it was the first cog railroad steam engine. The recently-acquired No. 7 is the first self-propelled, gasoline-powered cog railway car. By the 1940s, these replaced all the steam engines. Lastly, with the No. 9 and Coach #12, the railroad museum has a complete 1950s cog railway train.
The Manitou & Pikes Peak Cog Railway is one of “only a few cog railways in the world,” Tallman said. “Manitou & Pikes Peak Cog Railway wanted to see them (the railcars) preserved and thought this museum would be the most appropriate place.”
Tallman got the call from the general manager of the Manitou & Pikes Peak Cog Railway in December. At that time, the general manager said the railway is undergoing redevelopment and needed to get rid of some old railcars, Tallman said. The railcars fit the museum’s collection policy — a few of the stipulations being that the railcars operated in Colorado, and that they are historic and iconic.
The museum’s board approved the acquisition on Feb. 9. The railcars were then loaded on flatbed trucks and arrived in Golden Feb. 14-16.
The three railcars are available for viewing now at the museum’s Roundhouse, but will eventually be moved to their permanent location on the museum’s grounds to a spot where they can be showcased in a way that highlights what they used to do — possibly on a track on the nearby hillside — said Jeff Taylor, the Colorado Railroad Museum’s curator of rolling stock and equipment.
“It’s all part of the interpretive idea,” Taylor said. “They help tell the evolution of railroad equipment.”
He added that he hopes visitors who see the railcars will either be able to re-live a memory of the Manitou & Pikes Peak Cog Railway or “get a unique understanding of what the railroad used to be.”
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