Archives On The Air 128: Pikes Peak Rail—William Oliver Gibson Railroad Collection

Mar 20, 2019

The Manitou and Pike's Peak railway in Colorado has the highest elevation of any railway in North America. And the 5th highest in the world. The tracks go over 14,000 feet.

The track was opened in 1889 by Zalmon G. Simmons, Inventor of Simmons Beautyrest Mattress Company. The track took tourists to the top of the peak and back. 

The slope is a 16% incline. Special steam engines were built with slanted boilers to keep them level on the mountain.

The rail closed in 2018 for renovation. Operations are planned to resume in 2021.

William Oliver Gibson was a railroad enthusiast. His collection at UW's American Heritage Center includes photos, film, papers, and phonograph recordings of train horns.