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Sunday, October 13, 2013

Pike's Peak or Bust

Summit of Pike’s Peak

Needless to say, Pike’s Peak was there long before Lieutenant Zebulon Pike first saw it in November of 1806. The resident Ute Indians were very familiar with the mountain as were the Spanish as they explored the area.
Pike’s Peak began its relationship with the railroads soon after its discovery. The founder of the Denver and Rio Grande Rail Road loved it so much he made his home near the mountain and promoted tourists to drop by and see the mountain as they travelled on his railroad. It became quite a popular tourist destination and people found many creative ways to get to the summit.

One of these tourists was the owner of the Simmons Mattress Company. He rode a mule for two days in order to reach the top of the mountain. When he returned the owner of the hotel in which he was staying planed the idea of a railroad eventually taking people to the summit. Agreeing that people needed to see the beauty, he began gathering the capital necessary to build that railroad. The Manitou and Pike’s Peak Railway Company was founded in 1889. On the afternoon of June 30th, 1891, a church choir from Denver, Colorado became the first passengers on the first train to make it to the summit.

Fifteen years later this post card depicting the summit of Pike’s Peak was mailed. It shows one of the steam engines from the Baldwin Locomotive Works used on the cog railroad that lifted passengers up to the top. The Summit House, which is also shown on the front of the post card, has undergone several metamorphoses.

The Summit House began as a signal station for the US Signal Services in 1873. This building was replaced by a larger one to accommodate the many tourists that were climbing to the summit. A homestead, consisting of one log cabin, was added to the peak in 1886. The signal station was closed in 1888, but tourists continued to use it for shelter. In 1892 the railroad received permission to reconstruct the signal house for the use of their customers; it could accommodate 15 guests, had a lunch counter and a gift shop. Around 1900 the summit house was enlarged and refitted. This is the one we see on the front of the post card.
The post card is from the Undivided Back Era, which ended on March 1, 1907. There are two postmarks on the card. The first one, July 26, 1906 is the date that it was sent from Burlington, Colorado at 5:00PM. The second one, July 27, 1906, is the date that it was received in Omaha, Nebraska at 10 AM.

The picture on the front of the post card is embossed. You can run your fingers over the card and feel the picture. I have several picture post cards of Pike’s Peak similar to this one. But, there is no indication of who the printer or the publisher are.

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If you know anything about the history of the cards, the trains or the locations, please add them.