Woodland Park’s Cog Railway Back in Action as Special Event Host

Local Historical Society Revives Popular Woodland Station Attraction

Trevor Phipps

The historic cog railway car, located near Bergstrom Park in downtown Woodland Park, has gained a dose of newfound life as a unique, special event host.

More importantly, the vintage vehicle is back in action, ending much speculation about its probable use.

Although the car wasn’t filled recently with passengers to trek 14,000 feet up the famous mountain like it did for years, the Ute Pass Historical Society held a meet and greet event last month to introduce the car as a new venue for events.

The first public gathering featured historical presentations and a chance to meet the team working towards utilizing the cog railway car for various uses in the future. A full lineup of events are planned to take place at the Woodland Station location on the third Saturday of every month, starting on June 17.

In 2019, Woodland Park gained a tourist attraction in its downtown strip in the form of a decommissioned Manitou Springs Cog Railway car, as part of a deal orchestrated by the former board of the Woodland Park Downtown Development Authority.  One year earlier, the cog railway decided to shut down in the spring of 2018, after they conducted an infrastructure and equipment evaluation.

The cog railway has since reopened, but with new, upgraded rail cars. During the railroad’s three-year hiatus, they offered to give away their old rail cars under the stipulation that any takers had to pay to move it.

After hearing about the opportunity to gain a piece of the Pikes Peak Region’s past, the Woodland Park Downtown Development Authority partnered with Duane Carter, who owned Carter Realty to bring the car to the city’s Woodland Station property just south of Bert Bergstrom Park’s rest stop. Carter paid the cost for the car’s relocation up the mountain to Woodland Park for the purpose of having it set up as a memorial for his late wife, Myrna Carter.

The car was placed at a key spot of Woodland Station, where visitors can enjoy a spectacular view of Pikes Peak. This has become a popular spot for picnicking near the car in the daytime and posing for pictures in front of the memorial in the backdrop of America’s mountain.

On May 6, the Meet at the Cog Committee of the Ute Pass Historical Society held the first event in the car with presentations from Donna Hatton, Dave Martinek, Mel McFarland, and Ken Valles. Martinek started the event with a presentation about the group’s plans for the rail car to be a place to rent for birthday parties and enjoy educational events put on by the historical society.

McFarland is a local historian, author and artist who has written books on the Colorado Midland Railway and the Midland Terminal. He used his experience as a former engineer of the exact car that now sits at the park to discuss the history of the cog car.

Valles gave a presentation on The Gold Spike and the Transcontinental Railroad. He discussed how Colorado has solid connections to the rails that once covered our nation.

Hatton who is a local performer that specializes in Western music and Cowboy poetry, introduced herself to the crowd and announced plans for future events. She plans on hosting functions at the cog car once a month from May to September that include cowboy poetry, western music, storytelling, and historical re-enactors.

The event, scheduled  a week from this Saturday and presented by White Owl Productions is entitled “The Hattons’ Barnyard Chronicles: A Cowboy’s Family Heritage.” It will feature award-winning cowboy poets and musicians from The Academy of Western Artists Hatton, her husband Tom and friends.

The Hattons will tell a story that began on the River Thames in the late 1700s in England.

“Attendees will get a chance to hear the story of a young boy of 10 who was Shanghaied aboard a ‘Tall Ship’ and shipwrecked off the shores of Galvaston, Texas; a story of The Alamo; tales of The Civil War and into present day Colorado!” Hatton explained.

“Become part of our Hatton family’s 73-year ranching tradition as we take you on a journey in the Pikes Peak time machine…’the cog.’ Sing along with us and enjoy the view of the historic mountain Katharine Lee Bates wrote about in her poem ‘America the Beautiful,’ and the spiritual gift from the creator to the native people, the majestic mountain they call ‘Tava.’”

More events are slated to take place for the rest of the summer to honor the late Duane Carter’s wishes to have a memorial in Woodland Park dedicated to his beloved wife Myrna whom were both well-known members of the community for decades. The Ute Pass Historical Society invites everyone to “Meet at the Cog” while its warm this summer for a variety of historical presentations that tell the story of the Pikes Peak Region’s role in the settlement of the country’s infamous “Wild, Wild West.”