So if CO Can Keep Theirs Running Why Can't JH?
From the Casper Star Tribune:http://www.casperstartribune.net/art...2d0070563f.txtColorado tram reaches milestone
By ANN DEPPERSCHMIDT
ESTES PARK, Colo. (AP) -- It's easy to have a this-thing-had-better-hold-me attitude when you're suspended 200 feet above a mountainside.
"People ask us how we would get out in an emergency," said Audra Varilek, one of the car attendants on the Estes Park Aerial Tramway.
She pointed to a black evacuation box inside the tram car and said, "We tell them there's a Bible and a fresh pair of underwear in there."
The tramway is celebrating its 50th anniversary this summer -- a half-century of safely carting more than 3 million people to the top of Prospect Mountain -- with the same two cars and same operation since opening in August 1955.
Wyoming's Jackson Hole Mountain Resort last week announced plans to decommission its 40-year-old tram, citing future safety concerns.
Someone once said that when Robert Heron, the designer and builder of the Estes Park Aerial Tramway, "designs something, he designs it to last a lifetime, but when he builds something, he doubles that," said Jerry Winpegler, one of the lift operators. "I think this is a pretty good testament to that."
During World War II, the Army's 10th Mountain Division asked Heron to design portable tramways that soldiers fighting in Italy and Germany could take down each night. Soldiers needed a tram to ship up supplies and evacuate casualties in mountain battles.
After the war, when someone told Heron that he couldn't design a jig-back tram, in which two cars travel simultaneously in opposite directions, the Denver engineer said, "That's funny, I know how to do it," Winpegler said. So he set to work building one in one of his family's favorite places to vacation -- Estes Park.
And about $200,000 later, Estes Park got its tram. Today, a similar tram would cost at least $6 million to build, said Steve Barker, manager of the tramway.
"There's only about 16 of this type in the country," Barker said. "In Europe, there can be that many in one valley."
Heron built chairlifts around the country -- Loveland Ski Area and Arapahoe Basin Ski Area have Heron lifts, Winpegler said -- and built the first double chairlift in the country.
"Engineers hadn't caught up to him yet," said Winpegler, who first met Heron in the 1960s. "He was way ahead of his time."
There's a famous scene from a James Bond movie in which the villain, Jaws, uses his steel teeth to cut through cables holding Bond's tram car.
Carly Adams, during a recent visit to Estes Park from Kansas City, clutched one of the leather straps hanging inside the car. "This always reminds me of 'Moonraker,"' she said, laughing about the Bond movie.
For some reason, trams -- including the two rustic-red tram cars that shimmy up the mountain in Estes Park -- seem to spark Hollywood visions of heroic mountain survivals. Andrew DeLeo, one of the car attendants, said two 5-year-olds once rode in the car dressed in Spider-Man and Superman costumes.
"They fought the whole way up over who would get to save the people if the tram got off its track," he said.
Barker, who is managing the tram for his fourth season, said the company has never had to use its evacuation procedures; a broken cable has never sent a tram car somersaulting down the hill.
But employees are prepared -- the black evacuation box actually has a radio and tools -- and they practice lowering each other out of the car by rope throughout the season. Each tram car holds 10 adults and ascends 1,100 vertical feet in less than five minutes, sometimes hovering about 200 feet above the mountain.
The two tram cars have to safely shuttle people to the top to get married (three weddings are scheduled this summer), enjoy a view of Estes Park that would send any motivational-poster creator into ecstasy, eat lunch at the deli and watch the wildlife.
So, please. When riding on the tram with a car attendant, avoid questions like: 'Uh, will this thing really hold me?'
"Well," Varilek said, "we put a whole roll of duct tape on it this morning."