Historic Pikes Peak Cog Railway To Reopen In 2021

David Zalubowski/AP
A traveler takes a photograph of the Manitou and Pike’s Peak Cog Railway train at the summit of Pike’s Peak, May 2006.
Photo: Pikes Peak Cog Railroad - AP
A traveller takes a photograph of the Manitou and Pike's Peak Cog Railway train at the summit of Pike's Peak, May 2006.

Closed since March over safety concerns about its aging cars and equipment, the Pikes Peak Cog Railway will get a nearly $100 million reconstruction and reopen May 2021.

There will also be a new $50 million summit house coming in 2020 to the top of America's Mountain.

The news comes after months of debate over a 50-year tax break agreement with Manitou Springs, where the railway is based. Some residents worried the original plan would cost the city tens of millions of dollars in lost tax revenue.

Owners of the cog parent company, The Oklahoma Publishing Company, said the agreement would allow them to retain enough revenue to rebuild the railway, refurbish the depot and buy new rail cars. The company argued that without the extra money, the rail would likely never reopen to the public.

The Gazette reports the cog contributes hundreds of thousands of dollars in ticket sales taxes every year. It also brings visitors who spend their money at local businesses.

Officials agreed upon an updated agreement that quells some concerns over tax revenue losses for the city.

Over the next three years, the railway owners will pay $1.25 million in voluntary payments to Manitou Springs, according to Mayor Ken Jaray. Once the Pikes Peak Cog reopens, the agreement lays out a schedule of tax rebates.

During the first 25 years, the city will cap the amount of excise tax revenue that it collects on cog ticket sales. The rail will pay their taxes as usual and the city will give the company back any tax revenues above the caps. Those limits increase incrementally from $507,500 to $775,000.

The company will get back anything over 3.8 percent excise tax starting in year 26.

Also, if the cog attracts more than 375,000 riders in any year, it would pay the city’s full 5.5 percent on those extra ticket sales.

Jaray said he thinks the agreement is a good deal and that the city will not lose out on much. The revenue caps are above what the city has ever received in taxes from the rail.

“All in all, I think it was a fair agreement for both sides,” he said. “[The cog] brings 125 plus years of history and culture to our community. We are a tourist town based around our history and culture. And the Cog Railway has been a very important part of that. There's certainly a financial benefit there as well.”