News Roundup: Switching Sides

  • Gould Academy sells the naming rights to its T-Bar at Sunday River to Alera Group, an employee benefits firm.
  • Ski Bluewood’s former platter lift can be yours for $19,000.
  • To celebrate new carpool and transit initiatives, Crystal Mountain debuts a green gondola cabin.
  • Does the public have the right to know what individual ski resorts pay the federal government for use of public lands?  Vail Resorts and the National Ski Areas Association argue no.
  • The New York Times visits Woodward Park City in its first week of operation.
  • Sun Valley and Snowbasin prepare for their first peak period after switching from Mountain Collective to Epic.
  • The Saddleback deal won’t close on Monday as scheduled but hopefully sometime in January.
  • A religious group wants to relaunch the long-abandoned Moab Scenic Tram.
  • The Meier family assumes full ownership of Greek Peak and Toggenburg Mountain in New York.
  • Colorado Ski Country USA launches a chairlift safety video series.
  • The latest Wir Magazine highlights Bromont’s big combination lift, the history of Doppelmayr in Canada and new scale models from Jägerndorfer.

Lost Lifts of Moab

Moab, a town of 5,000 in the Utah desert is the surprising home of two failed lift projects – a gondola that never opened and a modern chairlift that lasted only a few years.

Moab Scenic Tram

Moab Scenic Tram from Google Earth.
Moab Scenic Tram from Google Earth.
Just south of Arches National Park stands the Moab Scenic Tram.  It’s actually a pulse gondola built by Doppelmayr.  A small group of investors spent $3.3 million to build the gondola along with a parking lot and two terminal buildings in 1999. From the outset it was criticized as the “tram to nowhere.”  Scheduled to open in April 2001, the tram’s owners got in a fight with the county over a removal bond to be paid in case the business failed.  Ironically the business never opened and the vandalized tram remains 16 years later.  Its windows and control panels have been smashed and graffiti is everywhere. The lift is very short with only five towers and a handful of cabins, some of which never made it onto the haul rope.  It is probably the world’s newest gondola to be tensioned with a counterweight and without level boarding.  If you’d like to check it out in person, it’s hard to miss at the intersection of US 191 and Route 128.

The lower terminal of the Moab Scenic Tram sits abandoned in 2015. The lift never carried a single customer.

Some cabins remain on the line while others lie in ruin at the base station.

Moab Scenic Skyway

The Moab Scenic Skyway scaled the Moab Rim.
The Moab Scenic Skyway scaled the Moab Rim.
On the other side of town was the Moab Scenic Skyway, a Garaventa CTEC quad chairlift which took hikers and bikers 1,000 feet up to the Moab Rim.  Longtime resident Emmett Mays had dreamed of building a lift on his property since the 1970’s.  He spent $2.2 million to build the lift, trails and parking lot and it opened in May 1999.  The entire lift was painted brown and orange camouflage colors to blend in with the rocks below.  Designed purely for sightseeing, it ran 250 feet a minute and took 16 minutes to ride round-trip.  The attraction lasted five years, closing in 2004.  The Nature Conservancy bought the land and the lift was sold to Whitefish Mountain Resort in Montana.  It operates today as the Easy Rider Quad.  The galvanized chairs still have patches of brown paint on them!

It cost $7 to ride the Skyway.
Moab Scenic Skyway circa 2002.