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Glenwood can start dreaming of a cavernous Christmas

By Christmas, locals and visitors should be able to take a tram up to Glenwood Caverns and watch the sun set over the mountains. This is what tramway engineer Chuck Peterson told the Glenwood Springs City Council Thursday night in a conceptual review.

The plan also includes a five-story hotel near the bottom of the tram, which may be built by Hotel Denver owners Steve and April Carver.

Peterson said the project has been in the planning stages for about a year, but its development was hindered because they couldn’t get the necessary easements.



“We now have written easements over every piece of property up to Glenwood Caverns,” Peterson said.

Peterson partnered with Steve Beckley, owner of Glenwood Caverns, to form the Glenwood Tramway Company.



“He came to me a little over a year ago for help in trying to build a tram,” Peterson said. “The concept is that we would have a plaza, a fountain and some flags (at the base),” he said.

At the top, plans call for a bar, a retail outlet, an 80-foot by 30-foot observation deck and a snack bar. There will also be a meeting room for conferences and space for functions such as weddings.

“It’ll be a private deck for weddings,” he said.

The current alignment, which is the third that’s been proposed, has its base next to the new Land Rover dealership, just below Highway 6, and runs directly up Iron Mountain to Glenwood Caverns. The Glenwood Tramway Company has entered into a contract to buy a three-acre parcel of land next to the Land Rover dealership

“It’s our intent to apply to the (Planning and Zoning Commission) in April and hopefully to be in front of council by May,” Peterson said.

If all goes as planned, construction of the tram will begin in July or August and it will be operational sometime in December, he said.

“This project is custom made to meet the city’s goals,” Peterson said. “The tramway and cave combination is exactly the type of attraction Glenwood Springs needs.”

He said the addition of the tram, which will make Glenwood Caverns accessible year-round, will bring substantial revenues to the city.

“We’re not talking chump change, we’re talking real money for the city,” he said.

Lowered rates will be offered for locals, he said, so it can be a destination for those seeking to just ride the tram and take in the beautiful view.

“The goal is to make this the place to go to have a drink and watch the sunset,” he said.

Eighteen towers will extend from the surface of Iron Mountain. At first, there will be four groupings of two cars. Depending on demand, this could be extended to 12 groups of three cars.

Most of the six months, he said, will be the lead time needed to build the cars. The towers and cable system will be installed by Poma, a company with an office in Grand Junction.

Peterson declined to give a specific cost estimate for the project.

The fixed-grip tramway will replace the shuttle buses that transport cavern visitors up and down Transfer Trail.

The system would be rigged so that the gondola cars would be placed in groups on the tramway cable. That way, the cable will slow to a crawl when the gondolas arrive at the terminals, then speed back up. That pattern of fast and slow movement is called a pulse.

Foundations for the tramway towers will be dug by hand, and helicopters will ferry in reinforcing steel and concrete. The metal towers will be painted black so they’ll be nearly invisible from a distance.

“There won’t be a swath going up the side of the mountain,” Peterson said.

Peterson will request a height variance for the hotel, a special use permit because the tram will be in the hillside preservation zone and a landscape variance from the required planting islands.


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