Fast-moving fires tore through Gatlinburg, Tennesee last night, forcing the evacuation of 14,000 people and burning at least 250 structures. The town home is home to the Ober Gatlinburg ski resort, a scenic aerial tramway and the Gatlinburg Sky Lift. While reports are conflicting, Ober Gatlinburg posted on its Facebook page that the ski resort is undamaged and the company is assessing the lower tram terminal downtown. VonRoll built a 130-passenger tramway between the town and ski resort in 1973 and it received new cabins in 2007. The ski area features two Borvig quad chairs, a 1978 Riblet double and 1962 Carlevaro-Savio double.
The Gatlinburg Sky Lift’s lower terminal is apparently standing, but the hillside it ascends burned with unknown damage at the top station. Boyne Resorts Senior VP of Marketing Julie Ard told the Petoskey News-Review, “At this time, we are focused on the well-being of our valued Gatlinburg Sky Lift staff.” The Sky Lift employs 26 people. Ard went on to note, “video posted today by state officials gives us confidence that our street-level building is intact, but status of the lift’s upper terminal and surrounding structures is unknown.” Boyne has continuously operated the Sky Lift since 1954. A Riblet double replaced the original Heron version in 1991.
Downtown Gatlinburg is also the site of the Anakeesta project, including a proposed fixed-grip chondola which was scheduled to be built in 2017.