1. Single Chair, Mad River Glen, VT – 1948 American Steel & Wire Single Chair
The single chair at MRG still has its original towers and terminal structures but everything else was replaced by Doppelmayr CTEC in 2007. As part of that project, towers were removed, sandblasted and repainted before being flown back to new foundations with new line gear. Doppelmayr also replaced the bullwheels, chairs, grips, drive and haul rope. This begs the question of ‘when is an old lift a new lift?’
Gatlinburg Sky Lift, Gatlinburg, TN – 1954 Riblet double
Everett Kircher of Boyne fame bought this chairlift from Sugar Bowl, CA for $3,000 in 1954. Originally it was a single chair built in 1939. Modified sheave assemblies were machined at the Kircher’s car dealership in Michigan when the lift went to Tennessee. At some point it appears to have gotten newer-style Riblet towers. Boyne Resorts still operates this lift 800 miles from their nearest ski resort. (edit: JP notes in the comments below that this version was replaced by a Riblet double in 1991. Thanks JP!)
3. Chair 1, White Pass, WA –
1955 1962 Riblet double
This lift only operates on busy weekends and holidays but it’s an old one and a good one . A classic Pacific Northwest center-pole double with very few modifications from its original design and no safety bars! (edit: Brian notes in the comments that this lift was actually installed as Chair 2 in 1962. The original chair 1 operated 1955-1994.)
4. Mountain Platter, Burke Mountain, VT – 1956 Poma platter
This lift has a strange history; it was shortened in the 1960’s and then lengthened with a turn added in 1983. There aren’t too many 4,800′ platters left out there like it. The platter is practically underneath a brand new Leitner-Poma detachable quad.
5. Chair 1, Mt. Spokane, WA – 1956 Riblet double
Spokane was the home of Riblet Tramway Company for more than a hundred years so it’s only fitting that the local ski area has five Riblet doubles in pretty much original form. The oldest is Chair 1 which was built in 1955 but not finished until 1956.
6. Summit, Kelly Canyon, ID – 1957 Riblet double
Kelly Canyon actually used this Riblet lift as a template to fabricate a homemade version right alongside it when more capacity was needed. Riblet never sold this ski area another lift although it now has a second (genuine) Riblet double which came from Vail.
7. Snowdon Poma, Killington, VT – 1958 Poma platter
This surface lift was one of two original lifts at the Beast of the East which now has 20 lifts. It’s more than 2,200 feet long and still operates despite being sandwiched between a newer triple and quad chair.
8. Banff Gondola, Banff, AB – 1959 Bell 4-passenger bi-cable gondola
Garaventa did a bunch of work on the Banff Gondola in 1997 which included new carriages and 40 new CWA X cabins. This is actually the third set of cabins on this gondola. Unlike most of the lifts on this list, the Banff Gondola operates all year long. I would not be surprised to see a completely new gondola built in the next few years at this major destination.
9. #3/Bateau, Sugarloaf, ME –
1959 1956 Constam T-Bar
Like all of these lifts, #3 T-Bar has some newer components, namely Leitner springbox T’s. It cost $57,000 to build and sixty years later is sometimes the only lift Sugarloaf can open on windy days.
10. 7th Heaven, Stevens Pass, WA – 1960 Riblet double
This lift has a newer Riblet overhead drive-tension terminal but the towers and top terminal are original from 1960. In fact, five of ten lifts on this list are Riblet doubles which can clearly stand the test of time.