Did you know that an explorer such as yourself could travel from New York City to the summit of Pikes Peak solely by rail? The traveler would only need to transfer from one train onto another without the inconvenience of soiling their city duds on equine-powered transportation. Just transfer from the railroad to the trolley car to the cog train.
Most locals know that the roundabout nicknamed The Loop at the intersection of Manitou Avenue and Ruxton Avenue was once the trolley turnaround. The Loop Restaurant’s name celebrates this location. There was a trolley line that went from this loop of track up the center of Ruxton Avenue, ending at the Pikes Peak Cog train station. As you will soon find, clues and remnants still exist.
This will be an easy exploration, as you can see most of these points from you car, but doesn’t it feel good to get out and walk in this fresh Colorado air? Ruxton Avenue is less that a mile long. Start your exploration from the roundabout.
- On your left at 121 Ruxton Avenue, the Twin Springs mineral springs is arguably the best tasting spring in Manitou Springs. I completely agree. I also propose that Wheeler Springs near the Cliff House is the worst tasting spring. They all have a different mineral content and varying flavors. What is your opinion? This short route up Ruxton Avenue will take you past three of the 8 active mineral springs in town.
- Just before the creek crosses under the road, at 350 Ruxton Avenue, you will see a dirt cutoff on your left, now used for residential parking. The trolley car rails are still visible!
- The Midland Railroad used to have a high trestle across this canyon. Running right above the Iron Springs mineral spring gazebo, you can find the concrete foundations for this trestle next to the creek and across the street. A notable wreck occurred on this trestle in 1909 when several freight cars fell onto Ruxton Avenue.
- At Spring Street, on you left, walk one block up to the start of Intemann Trail. Immediately to your left is a train tunnel that is still accessible. It is surprisingly close to the road but well hidden from the casual explorer.
- Across the track from the cog train’s loading platform sits a small house. The flat road you see to the left of this house end of the line for the trolley that ran from the loop.
- The Mt Manitou Incline has nice selection of historical remnants at the base and above the top if you know where to look.
Who was Ruxton and why did he get a road named after him? George F. Ruxton was an Englishman and a wild west adventurer. He fell in love with the beauties of Ute Pass and praised it in his 1840’s book Life in the Far West. Thirty years later, Ruxton Creek was given its name by George Cameron, a business partner with General Palmer . Ruxton Avenue followed later. Of course, Mr. Cameron named the most prominent formation above the valley, Cameron’s Cone, after himself.
How much of this surprised you? That was my goal in this thinly veiled attempt to get you outdoors and to share the excitement of exploration. The walk up Ruxton is rewarded by the downhill counterpart of your uphill walk, and it’s nice to know that a margarita is waiting for you at The Loop.