The Corporation is formed for the purpose of restoring and operating historical street and electrical railways and their respective vehicles in Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs and to provide a cultural, historical and educational experience for the citizens of the Pikes Peak area by preserving the history of the street railway systems that operated there.
The Foundation was formed in 1982 for the purpose of publishing and marketing a book on Colorado Springs' streetcar history, written by one of its founders, John Haney. It was donated a 1901 streetcar body and acquired through purchase, nine Philadelphia 1949 streetcars in the mid 1990s, and its mission changed then, as it realized it could restore and operate these cars on the streets.
It obtained a franchise from the City to do so in the late 1990s, and made two attempts at construction of a system during the next decade, both unsuccessful, in part because of a lack of a funding commitment by the City (unlike all other cities that have constructed systems).
In 2010, a concerted effort was made to put a system in place on Tejon St., private funding for a feasibility study was obtained, and a broad based task force was formed. When the follow-on, federally funded grant application was turned down by the Federal Transit Administration, the task force disbanded. Left alone, the Foundation determined to push forward on it own, with no tax dollars, and this application is part of that. It believes that a system can be put in place for roughly 40% of the cost of a federally funded program, because it already has vehicles that can be restored at about 1/3 the cost of new cars being marketed (historic replicas), and because it has the expertise to design, engineer, and construct such a system without the use of outside consultants, as the Feds insist on.
In the meantime, it has continued to work on acquiring museum artifacts, its restoration efforts on the historic streetcars (built between 1901 and 1947) and a move to the N. Nevada site, adjacent to where it anticipates laying track in the street.
Studies have shown that cities that have recently built streetcar systems (e.g. Portland OR, Tucson AZ, Dallas TX, Little Rock AR, Memphis TN, Kenosha WI, Tampa FL) have experienced returns between 500 and 1200% on their streetcar investments in the form of development of new retail and housing, increased property values, increased property and sales taxes and increased tourism. These returns have occurred despite the use of expensive federal dollars spent on construction and new (replica) cars. The Foundation has received an endorsement from the University of Colorado - Colorado Springs and the City Administration indicates it wants streetcars operating on N. Nevada as a catalyst for attracting developers who will purchase and improve/change outdated and industrial properties.