I escaped Jackson Hole’s early snow this weekend and headed southwest, destination tramway number fourteen on my hit list. One I should have gotten to long ago, the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is the king of North American jig-backs with a ridiculous vertical rise of 5,873 feet. That’s second highest in the world, though the German number one was retired in April with a replacement not scheduled to open until December, giving SoCal’s tram the loftiest lift worldwide title for the moment. At 2.5 miles, it’s just 317 feet longer than Jackson’s Big Red but with almost 1,800 more vertical in Chino Canyon. A modest sign points to the tram from a traffic light 670 feet above sea level on the edge of Palm Springs and the access road (Tram Way) and the tramway combine to lift visitors to 8,516 feet on Mt. San Jacinto. Of all the lifts I have ridden, this one rivals the best, both in terms of the core machine and the impressive operation surrounding it.
Francis Crocker, an employee of the California Electric Power Company first envisioned the tram while on vacation to Palm Springs in 1935. It took almost thirty years and a war for his dream to come alive, beginning with the creation of the Mount San Jacinto Winter Park Authority by the California legislature in 1945. Construction began in 1960 and from the day California Governor Pat Brown cut the ribbon in September 1963, the tram was a hit. It would be the first of seven large aerial tramways for VonRoll in the United States.
A consortium led by Poma beats out Doppelmayr in the bidding to build a two-stage urban gondola over water in Guayaquil, Ecuador with a second line in the works.
South America now makes up 17 percent of Doppelmayr’s global revenue, approximately equal to North America.
Peru’s President recently visited the ancient fortress of Kuelap, where Poma is 90 percent finished with a new 8-passenger gondola. The only problem? The haul rope hasn’t been installed yet. So crews slung cabins from towers for the Presidential photo-op to make it look closer to being done!
Check out photos and video of a four-section system with two haul ropes, glass-floor cabins and Leitner Ropeways’ first gondola aligned in the shape of a triangle, set to open this month at a nature park in Spain.