Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Burro Trips to Crystal Park

Before there was a road to Crystal Park, many tourists chose to take a burro trip.  There were a number of  "burro lines" from which to choose.  They offered trips to Rainbow Falls, the Cave of the Winds, Williams Canyon, the Garden of the Gods, Crystal Park and a two day trip to the summit of Pikes Peak and back.  There were other burro trips available to tourists in other locations that would take them up Cheyenne Canyon and other points of interest.

This photo (courtesy of the Manitou Springs Heritage Center), is notated on the back, "Burro Party to Crystal Park", with the date July 12, 1906, and the names of all the participants.  These trips did not follow the route of the future auto road, but rather the "Pawnee Trail" from the top of Pawnee Ave.

Below are two pages from a Manitou tourist brochure with a highlighted section regarding the burro trip to Crystal Park from the Pioneer Livery Stable, at a cost of $1.50.

This photo below is of a group leaving for Pikes Peak on July 24, 1910.  It shows the "Burro Line" barn, located on Manitou Ave. (in what is now the 700 block, south side)The barn is gone now, but it's location was to the east of the little alley (visible in the photo) that's still there, now lined with small shops.

Below is a photo of a group leaving the Cliff House for trip  in the late 1800's, probably to the Garden of the Gods or Williams Canyon.  Note the older couple in a cart on the left.  Carts couldn't be used on the trip to Crystal Park, as there was only a narrow trail.

The Red Mountain Incline

Although not located in Crystal Park, the Red Mountain Incline was located close to it, as it ran to the summit of Red Mountain.  The remnants are easily visible from Crystal Park Rd., by looking north from Fire Cistern 215, about 3 1/2 miles from the gate.

The following article previously appeared in the Westside Pioneer:

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!

Below are scans of Red Mountain Incline brochures (courtesy of the Manitou Springs Heritage Center).  Click to enlarge.