Tramway goes up on Iron Mountain
Last February, tramway partners Steve Beckley and Chuck Peterson proposed the new gondola-style tramway, a mountaintop bar and restaurant, a three-story, 68-room base hotel and a 118-space parking lot. The partners contended the gondola-style tramway could double visits to the caverns, and allow the natural wonders to remain open to the public year-round. The city approved the conceptual plan.
In March, Beckley and his wife Jeanne purchased 80 acres of Glenwood Caverns land – property they had previously leased from owners Pete and Mary Trebble – and obtained all the necessary easements to build the tram up Iron Mountain.
By April, the Glenwood Springs Planning and Zoning Commission was working on approving the tramway and other amenities, though concerns over parking and drainage needed to be worked out with developers. Glenwood Springs city manager Mike Copp also raised serious questions about parking and the impact the tramway and mountaintop restaurant could have on the Iron Mountain skyline.
But by May, the commission approved the plan, and in June, City Council approved the development.
In spite of the Coal Seam Fire’s impacts on Glenwood Springs’ tourist economy, the caverns remained open through the summer and business was brisk.
Locals got used to the sound of helicopters whirring overhead as work began in the fall on the new tram. Eighteen concrete pads were laid into Iron Mountain in anticipation of the new tramway being designed by Poma Leitner out of Grand Junction, while STP Enterprises out of Rifle began construction on the mountaintop restaurant and observation deck.
By November, the tramway towers were positioned into place with the help of a specialized helicopter, and the tramway got an official name: the Iron Mountain Tramway.
By the end of the year, work was progressing on the mountaintop building, while a few Glenwood Springs residents grumbled about the shine reflecting off the tram towers. The towers are supposed to eventually weather into a dull matte finish.
The new Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park is on schedule and due to open in the spring of 2003.
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Policy that dictates what for-profit activities should be officially sanctioned within Glenwood Springs parks is being reviewed by city staff and will likely come before the city council for final approval later this summer.