Oldest Operating Lifts in the US & Canada

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?’

2. 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.)

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Chair one at White Pass lives on despite an adjacent high speed quad.

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Lift Profile: Couloir Express at White Pass, WA

The Couloir Express is on the upper right of the White Pass trail map.
The Couloir Express is on the upper right of the White Pass trail map.

Located on the edge of Mt. Rainier National Park in the Washington Cascades, White Pass Ski Area has been operating continuously since 1956.  Until 2010, the entire ski area could be accessed from a single lift with a 1,500 foot vertical rise.  An ambitious expansion opened on December 4, 2010, doubling the size of the resort 33 years after it was first proposed to the Forest Service.  The 767-acre Paradise Basin addition includes two new Doppelmayr quads called Basin and Couloir Express as well as a new lodge and trails.  Both lifts were built mostly over snow to avoid road building in this former wilderness area.  Construction took place over two springs, taking a break for the summer and winter of 2009-10.

Building lifts over snow in 2010 with a unique construction schedule due to environmental concerns.
Building the Couloir Express over snow with a unique construction schedule due to environmental concerns.  Photo credit: White Pass Ski Area

The Couloir Express is the last Uni-GS model detachable that Doppelmayr built.  Designed specifically for North America, 44 GS detachable quads and six packs were built between 2003 and 2010.  Some resorts like Beaver Creek continued to order the Austrian-designed Uni-G so the GS never fully caught on.  Presumably it was phased out in 2010 to simplify production in a market with limited demand.

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