Glenwood Caverns looks for lift from new tramway, new name |

Glenwood Caverns looks for lift from new tramway, new name

Lynn BurtonStaff Writer

That helicopter flitting around Iron Mountain Friday helped put the Glenwood Caverns tramway one step closer to reality.A high-profile presentation to the tourism industry on Wednesday, and a training session from the Disney Corporation last week, are other clues the historic caverns are on schedule to become Glenwood’s second major tourist attraction.”March 1 is our opening date” for the tramway, said Steve Beckley, who owns the caverns with his wife, Jeanne.Beckley said the helicopter, which rents for $3,800 per hour, was used to pour concrete pads for nine tramway towers on Friday. The helicopter made trips back and forth from a staging area on Transfer Trail to Iron Mountain in three to four minutes each. “It was pretty quick,” Beckley said.Altogether, the 4,300-foot tramway up Iron Mountain from West Glenwood will have 18 towers.Beckley said the helicopter will spend today flying in steel for towers at the pad sites. “It can lift 5,000 pounds,” Beckley.Foundation work continues for the 9,400-square-foot tramway load-out facility, restaurant and gift shop at the new Glenwood Caverns base area in Two Rivers Plaza, at Highway 6 & 24 and Devereux Road.While local folks keep an eye on the helicopter Monday, eyes statewide will turn to Glenwood Caverns Wednesday, when the attraction’s new name, logo and overall design are presented at the Governor’s 2002 Colorado Tourism Conference in Grand Junction.Beckley said he would announce the new name in Glenwood Springs in Wednesday morning’s edition of the Post Independent.Looking far beyond next week’s conference, Jeanne Beckley attended training sessions at the Disney Center last week. Disney, home of Mickey Mouse, operates multi-million dollar amusement parks around the world. Beckley said many of the training sessions focused on how to retain employees.”We want to make this a great place to work,” Beckley said.When the caverns hit full stride next summer, Beckley expects to employ about 60 workers. Some of those workers will be employed in the caverns’ mountaintop restaurant, which has yet to be named. “We’re still kicking around some ideas,” Beckley said.Glenwood Caverns has three miles of passages, “and we’re still growing,” Beckley said. Included in the underground attractions are two of Colorado’s largest cave rooms.The caverns operated as a tourist attraction from 1895 until 1917, then were closed to the general public until the Beckleys reopened them in 1999. This year’s closing date is Nov. 1.Once the tramway is complete next spring, the caverns will be open every day except Christmas and Thanksgiving.Passenger loading for the tram will be near the Land Rover dealership at Two Rivers Plaza. The tram’s base-to-elevation gain is 1,300 feet, Beckley said. The gondola trip to the caverns will take just over seven minutes.

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