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From Notes on Track—1904—W.M. Camp

Hand Cars of the Manitou & Pike's Peak Ry.—The average grade of the cog road from Manitou, Colo., to the top of Pike's Peak is 844.8 ft. per mile, and in several places it is as steep as 25 per cent, or at the rate of 1,320 ft. per mile. In order to insure traction for the locomotives rack bars are laid in the middle of the track, as seen in the illustration. For rapid transit down grade the officers and employees of this road use what are known as "slide boards," on which they can coast down the track at great speed. The device consists essentially of -a plank 12 ins. wide and 3 ft. In length, along the middle of the under side of which there is a cleat which runs between the rack bars and holds the vehicle thereon. On either side of the middle cleat there are brake-shoes, bolted to the plank at one end and bearing against the outside surfaces of the rack bars or cog teeth. These brake shoes are applied by clamps bent over the sides of the plank and operated by a lever which, as appears in the illustration, the rider holds within his grasp. The plank bears upon the upper edges of the cog teeth by steel runners, which consist of two straps bent over the ends of the plank. To hold the device in balance a bar or pole, is bolted to the top of the plank, crosswise, extending over the track rail on either side. Across the front end of the plank there is bolted a rest for the rider's feet. The weight of the slide board entire is but 35 lbs. The position of the rider when motion is clearly apparent in the illustration, and the method of operating the device is simply to place it on the track, sit down and attend to the brake. The speed attainable depends upon the pleasure of the, rider. A record of a fraction under a mile a minute has been made, and a ride at this speed over the rack rails is said to be stimulating if not exciting. The entire stretch of track from the top of the peak down to Mauitou—9 miles—is used, except at four points where the rack rails diverge at sidings. At these points the rider must come to a stop and carry his board about 40 ft. On one occasion an employee of the, company made the trip over the 9 miles in 11 minutes. The friction of the runners on the rack rails causes the former to heat, and on the lighter grades of 8 to 12 per cent the heated runners have been known to adhere to the rack rail and stop the vehicle. For the purpose of lubrication, and to prevent the runners from unduly heating, the rider carries a bar of soap which he applies to the top of the rack teeth by reaching over in front of the board. Even then, the friction is so great that, at very high speed, on the long grades, streams of fire follow the flight of the rider.


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