Mike Nelson's Colorado -- Pikes Peak

Cog Railway Is Running Again After Waldo Canyon Fire

"All aboard!"

With those two simple words, dozens of people from around the world board the Manitou and Pikes Peak Railway. Over the next 9 miles, visitors will go up nearly 7,000 feet in elevation to the top of Pikes Peak.

"Pikes Peak itself is an icon and a beacon on the Front Range," said railway general manager Spencer Wren.

More than 100 years ago, a special cog track was laid and trains arrived to take tourists to the top.

"It's a cog railroad, a special type of railroad, " explained a tour guide on the train. "There's a middle rail called a rack rail that uses gears that are mounted on the axles of the train to climb much steeper grades."

While most trains climb a 4 to 6 percent grade, the cog railway goes up a 25 percent grade. The trains carry 250,000 people each year to the top of the mountain.

"For many people it's the highlight of their vacation," Wren said.

The train follows a creek through a forested canyon. There are boulders and waterfalls.

7NEWS chief meteorologist Mike Nelson asked a 3 year old what he liked about the train ride.

"The waterfalls," was the answer.

His mother said she had so much fun riding the train with a third grade class, she decided to bring the family and some friends.

On the day Nelson rode, they spotted a marmot on the tracks and big horn sheep in the rocks.

As for the Waldo Canyon Fire, the railway moved its trains above to treeline to protect them. Eight trains were parked at Windy Point as the fire burned toward Colorado Springs.

Luckily the fire stopped before it hit Manitou Springs.

"It's just not really evident, it's almost impossible to see," Wren said on top of the mountain. "I think by being a tourist, by coming and visiting the area, they validate what the firefighters did to save this beautiful area."

If you go, you can get to the top of Pikes Peak four ways -- by train, by bike, by car and by hiking.

Learn more about the cog railway, biking Pikes Peak, hiking the peak and driving to the top.

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