The Failure of the Mt. Hood Aerial Skiway

The Failure of the Mt. Hood Aerial Skiway

Each winter, 1000’s of skiers flock to Mt. Hood to benefit from the snow. Whereas most winter sports activities followers at this time drive and experience lifts to their locations, the Mt. Hood Skiway aerial tram offered another choice for getting from Authorities Camp to Timberline Lodge following WWII. The tram’s builders had nice hopes for the car’s success, because it was half ski elevate and half flying bus. The Mt. Hood Skiway tram made its inaugural ascent from under Authorities Camp to Timberline Lodge in January 1951. On its preview voyage, it was the world’s longest of its variety, attracting the eye of newspapers, in style magazines, and newsreel producers. Regardless of all the enthusiasm, the tram was operational for less than 5 years.


The newly based Mt. Hood Aerial Transportation Firm held its first assembly on the American Financial institution Constructing in Portland on October 24, 1947. Dr. J. Otto George and A.L. Greenwalt have been the one stockholders on the time, every holding 250 shares. George based the enterprise with the objective of constructing a cutting-edge aerial tramway that may join Authorities Camp and Timberline LodgeAfter a prolonged and costly development process, the “Skiway” made its debut public run in January 1951. Richard Neuberger described the Skiway because the “most extraordinary of buses” in an August Standard Science story, scraping clouds to drop passengers down at Timberline Lodge. Regardless of its fame and nice hopes, the tram discontinued operations in 1956 attributable to declining revenue. Not like different shorter, lighter lifts, the Mt. Hood Skiway operated with two tailored metropolis buses, which was not very well-thought-out. The buses, which have been outfitted in Portland by Willamette-Pointer, every employed two 185-horsepower gasoline engines to drag the bus up a stationary 1.5-inch diameter rope, just like how logs are hauled out of the woods. Nice images of the greater than twenty-five miles of cable being introduced up the mountain and put alongside the three.2-mile line from the decrease terminal constructing to Timberline Lodge could also be seen within the Oregon Journal {photograph} archives saved on the OHS Analysis Library.

Every bus had a capability of 36 passengers and included streetcar-style seats that flipped to permit passengers to all the time face ahead. In line with the Oregon Historic Society, The customized buses value $40,000 every, in comparison with $16,500 for a comparable passenger bus, and consumed seven gallons of gas each spherical journey. The buses’ monumental weight brought on a 25-minute, laborious experience up the mountain till they have been ultimately positioned on the ropes. Consequently, every bus might solely make one round-trip every hour, shifting solely 72 folks per cabin — a enterprise mannequin that may be unprofitable. The road’s convoluted route, which started at a decrease terminal constructing — which housed a restaurant and snack bar — under Authorities Camp and minimize a transparent path to the west aspect of Timberline Lodge, minimize into profitability. In 1948, the enterprise engaged Forest Service veteran Volley Reed to guide two slicing crews that labored from reverse ends of the trail, with the intention of assembly within the center — Reed later modified the plan after it was revealed that the crews weren’t slicing a straight line. After the crews completed two years later, work on establishing 38 metal towers to help the tram’s kilometers of cable started.

The Skiway tram was crowded for its debut run on January 2, 1951, regardless of appreciable snowfall. Representatives from numerous native information shops have been there. The bus was dragged as much as one aspect of a tower then coasted all the way down to a low level earlier than climbing to the subsequent. The Skiway was even seen in movement on newsreel video from the time. “The tramway crippled its method by way of 5 years of marginal operations earlier than suspending” in 1956, in line with Invoice Keil, a Timberline Lodge publicity supervisor within the Fifties. The Mt. Hood Aerial Transportation Co. assortment (OHS Analysis Library Coll 146) incorporates company data that reveal how the agency tried to avoid wasting the failed operation. Shareholders gathered a number of instances between 1956 and 1958 to debate the corporate’s future. They thought-about a revamp using a moveable cable system with 30 to 40 vehicles as an alternative of two buses throughout a convention on August 9, 1957. Nevertheless, on the identical assembly, shareholders raised their reservations about additional spending. The snowboarding between Timberline Lodge and the decrease terminal was deemed inadequate to warrant a typical ski-lift system, and nearly all of their utilization occurred through the summer time months.

One other situation, in line with long-serving board member George Rauch, was “a nice freeway that competes bitterly with us.” He talked about the next difficulties with the Skiway on the identical August 9 assembly: “I’ve ridden the tramway. I’ve listened to the shrieks and I’ve taken the jolts over these, what you name them — the saddles, and I’ve heard what folks say. Now, maybe a few of these issues might be eradicated. In my view, having fifty years’ expertise with enterprise organizations, this primary was improperly conceived as a result of it was placed on us — an effort to make an experiment to show to the world that the Roebling Firm might haul folks in addition to they do logs. Subsequently, it’s improperly constructed mechanically.”

Regardless of these debates, efforts to avoid wasting the Skiway tram continued all through the remainder of 1958 and into the next yr. Regardless of repeated makes an attempt to conduct checks for a redesign, a Liquidating Committee was created by June 1959. The decrease terminal construction was bought to investor William Simon for $25,000 a yr later, in 1960. Zidell Equipment & Provide Firm paid $10,080 for the 2 buses, a jeep, an engine, and different tram components in December 1960. The Skiway tram’s route, which runs upward between Authorities Camp and Timberline Lodge, should be seen at this time. On Authorities Camp Loop, the unique decrease terminal construction is now Thunderhead Lodge. The Glade Path and the Skiway Path are nonetheless utilized by skiers to get downhill from Timberline Lodge. Although the venture failed, the fascinating story of its ideation and design nonetheless stays, placing us by its ingenuity and uniqueness even at this time. Should you, like a real traditional fanatic, are keen on such tales that reveal the key pages of the historical past of traditional automobiles, ideas and designs, you’re greater than welcome to take a look at our automotive library that can by no means cease stunning you with its wealthy number of cool tales, informed in meticulous element!


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