City of Colorado Springs / Transit Service / Transit Links / Streetcar Feasibility Study / History of Streetcars in Colorado Springs

History of Streetcars in Colorado Springs

 

Streetcar header

Colorado Springs Street Car Artist Rendering
Copyright 2009 J. David Thorpe. Rendering depicts vision of streetcar service on Tejon Street in downtown Colorado Springs.
Colorado Springs' first streetcar service was powered by horses. Horsecar service was initiated in 1887 by the Colorado Springs & Manitou Street Railway Company. The initial line ran from Colorado College along Tejon Street to the Central Business District.

 

By 1888, a second line to the west was completed from the Santa Fe depot to 8th Street, and by 1889, the line along Tejon was extended north to Fontanero. At its peak, a total of 10 horse-drawn trolley cars operated in the city.

 

In 1890, the rival El Paso Rapid Transit Company acquired the Colorado Springs & Manitou Railway Company, but the joint effort was unsuccessful and the company was sold to new owners who established the Colorado Springs Rapid Transit Railway. Soon after this purchase, the new owners began the process of replacing the horsecar lines with electric power.

 

The first electrified line to Manitou Springs was completed in October 1890. Lines were then extended to the Broadmoor and to Austin Bluffs along Pikes Peak Avenue. The system numbered 44 electric cars by 1900.

 

In 1901, Winfield Scott Stratton acquired the company and renamed it Colorado Springs & Interurban Railway Company. At its peak, under Stratton's direction and that of his trustees (Stratton died in 1902), the system covered 41 miles. Ridership reached its peak in 1911, and by 1914, the company was running into financial trouble due to an increase in automobile usage. By 1931, buses began replacing streetcars.

 

Streetcar service ended on April 30, 1932, and many of the tracks were removed by the Work Progress Administration in the mid 1930s.

 

This history is courtesy of the Heritage Trolley System Feasibility Study for the Colorado Springs Metro Area released in 1995.