The Mount Manitou Scenic Incline Railway was first built in 1907 to assist in the construction of a hydroelectric plant and its infrastructure near the top of Rocky Mountain. Not originally intended to be a tourist attraction, it nevertheless had potential for scenic views from atop its peak, and thus was renamed to Mount Manitou Scenic Incline Railway. It continued operating as a scenic railway, taking visitors to the top of Rocky Mountain (the actual name of the mountain on which the line ran, Mount Manitou, is over a mile away), at a height of 8,600 feet, until a rock slide shut down the operation in 1990.
Today, its former right-of-way is still clearly visible. In order to stabilize the mountain and prevent significant erosion, the original wooden ties were left in the ground, and they still remain to this day. At the top, the concrete platform on which the passenger station was built also remains. Also visible is the steep 68% grade in the middle section of the line. Others report that a boiler from one of the original steam engines used to power trains on the line (via tow cable) still lies at the top of the mountain. The route is a popular destination for joggers and climbers; however, the land on which the route lies is private property and those doing so are considered trespassing.
The Mount Manitou Incline Power House: One of the pictures shows the interior of the Mount Manitou Incline power house. In the center of the picture is the unique "Double Bull Wheel". The rear wheel is attached via a 8" driveshaft to the gear reduction box. Between the gearbox and the drive motor, a large looping hose that connects both calipers of the disc brake system that was used is visible. The drive motor is a 100HP 440v AC motor similar to those used in elevators. To the left of the picture is the original electric motor that was used from the early 1900s until it was replaced in 1976. In the background is the operators control panel. The telephone you see was connected to the lower station and was were the engineer received the "All Clear" to start the train. The engineer could not see either car, once the top car broke over the 68% grade. It's not easy to make out, but to the left of the window, is a large gauge that ran from the floor to the ceiling. It was geared to the cable and displayed two red needles that let the engineer know the position of each car during the run.
Bob Driver describes his experiences: In extreme fog, I used a stop watch to time the run in order to know when the cars should be slowing down to enter the station. 14:37 mins/secs from the start, the train would hit an automatic switch and go into "creep mode" and start slowing down in order to enter the station. Many a foggy day, I could not see the incoming car until it reached the end of the loading platform.