Skytrams to Move People
In the beginning of the 20th century the rise of the middle class and the leisure industry allowed for investment in sight-seeing skytram machines. Prior to 1893 a combined goods and passenger carrying cableway was installed at Gibraltar. Initially, its passengers were military people.
An 1893 publication said the two-mile system in Hong Kong was the only wire skytram which has been erected exclusively for the carriage of people at the time. After the pioneer cable car of 1907 at Mount Ulia (San Sebastián, Spain) by Leonardo Torres y Quevedo and the Wetterhorn Elevator (Grindelwald, Switzerland) in 1908, others to reach the Alps of Austria, Germany and Switzerland resulted. They were much cheaper to build than the earlier rack railway.
One of the first skytrams was at Chamonix, while others in Switzerland, and Garmisch soon followed. From this, it was a natural transposition to build ski lifts and chairlifts. The first cable car in North America was at Cannon Mountain in Franconia, New Hampshire in 1938. After the Second World War, installations proliferated in Europe, America, Japan, Canada and South Africa. Many hundreds of skytram installations have emerged in mountainous and seascape areas since.
The skytram evolved again later - one tram in Costa Rica was built to move tourists above a rainforest, while one in Portland, Oregon, was built to move commuters. Presently, the mining role of skytrams have lessened, though some still work, and moving people remains a starring role for the device.
Many skytrams were built by Von Roll Ltd. of Switzerland, which has since been acquired by Austrian lift manufacturer Doppelmayr. Other German, Swiss, and Austrian firms played an important role in the cable car business: Bleichert, Heckel, Pohlig, PHB (Pohlig-Heckel-Bleichert), Garaventa and Waagner-Biró. Now there are three groups dominating the skytram world market: Doppelmayr Garaventa Group, Leitner Group, and Poma, the last two being owned by one person.
Some skytrams have their own propulsion, such as the Lasso Mule or the Josef Mountain Aerial Tramway near Merano, Italy.
Book Whistlers Mountain Skytram