The Railway to the Peak

Beginning in 1909, an “incline railway,” or funicular, carried tourists to the top of Mt. Morrison to enjoy the views, said to be among the most spectacular in the Front Range. John Brisben Walker conceived this coup, the first such attraction in the Denver metropolitan area. Within a few years, two more funiculars were built in Golden: one to the top of Castle Rock on South Table Mountain, and another to the top of Lookout Mountain.

Walker’s was the first and, if we are to believe his promotional material, the best. Unfortunately, he reckoned without the new popularity of the automobile, which gave people the freedom to travel where they wished and enjoy the views they encountered. Visitors to the park today can still see the scar on Mt. Morrison left by the tracks of the incline railway, which were hauled away as scrap metal in the late 1920s.

Go to part 2: A Ride to the top of Mt. Morrison

Construction of the Mt. Morrison Funicular
from newspaper accounts in the Jefferson County Graphic:

“Manley Sawyer and Tom Matthews are engaged in hauling rails to the Mt. Morrison Incline railroad this week”

—May 30, 1908; Jefferson Co. Graphic

“Over 25 men are now employed on the Mt. Morrison Incline railroad and the work is being rapidly pushed toward completion. About 1000 feet of the road grade is complete, ready for the rails and ties, and a few feet of tracks has already been laid. The roadbed for the remainder of the distance is partially graded. One cannot imagine the enormity of such an undertaking without viewing the scene of operations and it is well worth your while to take a walk over the steep incline, which is to become one of Colorado’s greatest achievements in railroad engineering.”

—June 30, 1908; Jefferson Co. Graphic

“A 125 horse power boiler and an engine of the same capacity are now on the ground, ready to be placed for the Mt. Morrison Incline railroad.”

—July 11, 1908, Jefferson Co. Graphic

“The last of the machinery for the Mt. Morrison Incline Railway arrived last week…. Not until the road is completed will people understand the enormity of the undertaking, or the great importance of the new attraction to Morrison.”

—August 15, 1908, Jefferson Co. Graphic

4 thoughts on “The Railway to the Peak

  1. Well, I’ve figured out where the old rail bed of the Mount Morrison funicular railroad is located. Now I’d like to ride my mountain bike up the road from Idledale to Mount Morrison. Does anyone know if that is a public road? If it’s private, who owns the land. I know Jeff Bradley if his family owns the land and may be able to get permission to ride it from him.
    Dick Plastino

  2. I found some brochures from about 1910 for Mount Morrison and the new road leading up to the rail. It was 75 cents for a ride to the top and back. I would like to get an exact date before I sell them.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s