The builders looked far enough into the future to behold the greatness of a gold district producing $25,000,000 a year.
To the incorporators and builders of the Midland Terminal railway belongs the credit of making easy of access to the world a new empire. An empire of gold, the extent of which was undreamed of by them, and which, even after a decade of the most marvelous production of gold ore the world has ever known, remains to a large extent unexplored.
Whether or not these men looked far enough into the future to behold the greatness of a gold district producing $2,000,000 each month and containing a population of 100,000 people, or still farther into the years to come, when, unless all signs fail, the rich promise of the present will be realized and the Cripple Creek we now know will be shown to have been but in her infancy, we must hail these pioneer railroad builders as men of broad intelligence and keen insight, who took chances of failure when others hesitated and by perseverance and determination built one of the most wonderful railroads in the world and one which has been of incalculable value to the Cripple Creek district.
So much interest is manifested by the sightseer in the great mines reached by the Midland Terminal railway that the magnificent scenery through which it passes is sometimes neglected.
It may be truthfully stated that there is more varied and wonderful scenery on this line than may be found on any other in the state, and tourists who have traveled over the world declare that the gorgeous panoramas of noble mountain peaks and ranges in full view from the train and stretching away in the distance for a hundred miles and more surpass any similar views they have seen.
Here the forces of nature seem to have left their masterpieces to impress the human mind with the sublimity of creation. It is a sight which causes the beholder to catch his breath in astonishment and wonder at the glorious, indescribable spectacle.
Beginning at Cripple Creek, the heavy steel rails of this mountain railway wind around the hills, gradually reaching higher and higher above the valleys and towns. In and out through the entire district, past the ore chutes of the most of the great gold-producing mines and through the gold cities of Elkton, Anaconda, Victor, Portland and Independence, and thence around famous Bull hill, whose crest is crowned with mines.
All the while in full view of the snow-capped peaks of the high mountain ranges away off in the distance.
From Bull hill and Cameron, Pike's peak is in sight for several miles. This view of one of the highest peaks in the state is magnificent in the extreme. Standing alone, rugged, storm-swept and at times obscured by the clouds, this giant among pigmies towers above the foothills and the lower mountains, and may be seen even from Denver, eighty miles away, but from this point on the Midland Terminal railway, historical Pike's peak, one of the grandest pieces of the Creator's handiwork, appears in all of its magnificence and splendor.
The road turns directly north at Cameron, passes through the, as yet, undeveloped portion of the mining district.
Through Gillett and the canons beyond, then ascends to the crest of Hayden divide, over one of the steepest grades on any railroad in the state.
Four per cent. grades and sixteen degrees curves are very much in evidence, and here again scenery becomes surpassingly grand.
The passenger finds himself in the heart of the mountains, with the valley beneath, full of the rarest flowers, and, sheltered in the bosom of the canon, winds a silvery mountain stream which contrasts beautifully with the various shades of green and red and makes a strikingly warm picture in comparison with the chilly snow-covered mountains of the great divide, which loom in the distance to appalling heights.
Almost as far as the eye can reach across fifty miles of plain and foothills, over the most gigantic perspective in all nature, these hoary mountains stretch away for hundreds of miles, presenting a spectacle so grand, so cold and so desolate that expressions of admiration and awe escape from all who look upon this stupendous panorama.
At Divide, Colo., connection is made with the Colorado Midland railway, and here the scene changes to a delightful parks of upper Ute pass. The railroad winds through the beautiful summer resorts of Green Mountain Falls, Woodland park and Cascade canon, thence to Manitou and Colorado Springs through lower Ute pass, the most famous gorge in Colorado.
This gateway to the Cripple Creek district is, aside from its scenic grandeur, the most interesting historical region in the West.
In the camping ground of the Ute Indian in the days gone by, many sanguinary conflicts were waged in the rock-bound fastnesses of this granite pass. Famous as the scene of the earliest gold discoveries in the state, and the route of the first wagon road through the Rocky Mountains.
The walls of solid rock stand 2,000 feet in height and so narrow is the canon in many places that the roadbed has been hewn from the solid rock and the chasms spanned by great bridges. The track through the pass has recently been rebuilt with seventy-five-pound steel rails, and many other improvements are contemplated.
The through car service of the Midland Terminal railway is very complete. There are at present two trains each way every day between Cripple Creek and Colorado Springs, Pueblo and Denver, on which through coaches and chair cars are in service between Cripple Creek and Colorado Springs.
Direct connections with all of the fast trains of Eastern lines are made at the points mentioned, and at Divide for all Western points, including Leadville, Glenwood, Grand Junction, Salt Lake and the Pacific coast.
The Midland Terminal railway was incorporated August, 1892. Seven miles of it (Divide to Midland) were constructed during the fall of 1893.
These seven miles were opened for traffic on December 11, 1893. Passengers and freight were handled between Midland, the terminus, and Cripple Creek by stages and transfer wagons. The line was completed to Gillett, fifteen miles from Divide, on July 4, 1894, and extended and opened to Victor on December 16, 1894, and to Cripple Creek December 18, 1895.
The incorporators were W.K. Gillett, H. Collbran and H.P. Lillibridge. Mr. Gillett eventually secured control of the entire property, and has since been its president.
The road is broad gauge throughout.