MANITOU SPRINGS, Colo. - The Broadmoor, owner of the Pikes Peak Cog Railway in Manitou Springs, confirmed Wednesday that the popular train service will remain closed for the rest of the year.
Broadmoor spokeswoman Allison Scott said the railway is still using much of the same technology as when the first passenger train reached the summit of Pikes Peak in 1891.
"The technology for cog has moved on since then, and now we need to bring in experts to take a look at this -- and the experts are very limited," she said. "There are only two cog trains in the United States. We're the highest-altitude cog train in the world."
Scott said some experts from Switzerland, where cog technology was invented and developed, have already visited the railway and will continue to do so in the coming months.
The goal is to determine what infrastructure can be upgraded, how much it would cost, how long repairs would take and whether the Broadmoor would find the investment worthwhile.
"We've done a lot of improvements that you don't see," said Spencer Wren, the railway's general manager. "One of the things the Swiss have said is that we should electrify the entire line. That's a huge undertaking. This situation is like peeling an onion, there are so many different layers."
Sudden weather changes, terrain and altitude also make a major infrastructure upgrade difficult.
The railway uses eight trains to transport more than 300,000 visitors to the summit annually.
During the day Wednesday, word of the closure spread quickly.
A sign informing visitors of the closure was posted outside the depot and some visitors were disappointed that the trains weren't running.
"We came all the way from Missouri to ride the train today," the father of a family of three said.
Another visitor said the Summit House on Pikes Peak was abuzz with the news.
"Everyone was talking about it," he said. "I guess they have to do it. I hope it's not gone for good."
Neighbors living near the depot said they have mixed feelings, realizing the popularity of the trains but also looking forward to less noise and congestion.
"The Incline is next door and not having the trains will help ease congestion there," a neighbor said. "But I worry about there being more traffic on the Pikes Peak Highway. I hope they have a plan to deal with that. Even under normal conditions, that highway is busy."
Wren said the Railway's closure also will affect tourism by having fewer visitors to buy food, lodging and entertainment in the area.
"It's going to be an adjustment," Wren said.
Several years ago, the Broadmoor purchased Seven Falls in Colorado Springs, another popular attraction, after it was severely damaged by flooding.
But will even the Broadmoor's considerable financial resources save the Cog Railway?
"That's what we need to find out," Scott said.
The future of one of southern Colorado's most unique attractions is looking bleak.
The Cog Railway, which allows visitors to take a trip up Pikes Peak without breaking out the hiking shoes or wearing down a vehicle's brakes, is not planning to reopen this spring, according to the Gazette.
After several months of maintenance, Broadmoor President and CEO Jack Damioli says The Broadmoor is still studying the fate of the 8.9-mile track.
Since 1891, the Cog has been running safely on cogwheels mesh with a special center "rack" rail that allows the train to climb a steeper grade than most other trains.
According to Damioli, a current option for getting the Cog Railway back up and running is to completely rebuild the track, replace its cars and upgrade related facilities, which could cost a fortune.
The Broadmoor has launched a review of the railway, which could take two to three years.
For more on this story, visit the Gazette's website.