Cadillac-Built Cog Railway Locomotive
Cheyenne Mountain Zoo Railroad

at Colorado Springs on January 28, 2016

One of the more unusual railroads in Colorado was the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo Railroad that ran two miles from the Broadmoor Hotel to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo passing through four tunnels in route. The narrow gauge cog railroad, owned by Spencer Penrose, owner of the hotel and zoo, built the railroad in 1937. It opened the following year. The first locomotive, using a gasoline engine, was a scale replica of the Manitou & Pikes Peak Cog Railway steam locomotives. Penrose also owned the M&PP Cog Railway. In 1950, a modern streamlined gasoline powered locomotive was built by Cadillac and operated over the railroad until the line closed in 1974. The train was dubbed the Mountaineer. The locomotive pushed the two 20-passenger coaches up the grade to the zoo and provided braking for the train as it drifted downgrade back to the hotel. After the railroad closed, the locomotive was sold, moved to several proposed or failed rail operations, and finally falling into disrepair in an aspen grove near Central City, Colorado. It has since been returned to the zoo and cosmetically restored and displayed on a short section of the original track in the zoo parking lot. The railroad had been more than an just amusement park ride; its purpose was to shuttle guests between the hotel and the zoo.

Larry Ditls photo and text

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