Tramway transports two to top terminal |

Tramway transports two to top terminal

Lynn Burton
Post Independent Staff

One of the happiest guys in Glenwood Springs Friday morning stood 20 feet up in the air, looking down.

The other happiest guy stood right below him on Two Rivers Plaza Road, looking up.

“We’ve got lift-off. Yea!” Glenwood Caverns tramway co-owner Chuck Peterson yelled up to maintenance supervisor Tim Ray, of Grand Junction-based Poma.

Ray and Poma tram construction worker Mike Christie were the first two passengers transported up Iron Mountain on Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park’s 4,300-foot tramway. They rode in an open-sided, cage-like work carriage used for maintenance.

The work carriage slowly crept to the first tram tower that needed attention.

“He’s up to tower four,” Peterson told Caverns co-owner Jeanne Beckley on his cell phone. “You can rush back here and see them if you want to.”

While Peterson updated Beckley, Ray smiled, waved and photographed a small group of sidewalk supervisors who craned their necks and visually recorded the historic first trip.

By Saturday afternoon, tram workers installed two shiny new six-passenger tramway cabins, painted a deep orange with the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park logo on the side, onto the tramway cable.

“It went wonderful. It was so great to see the cabins on the line,” Peterson said.

By today, the tramway installation crew was expected to install five or six more passenger cabins. The tramway will use a total of eight cabins, but one slot may be used for another day or two by the work carriage that Ray and Christie were working from on Friday.

Friday’s work was among the last to be performed before the Colorado Passenger Tramway Safety Board test, set for March 17.

Using a chain saw on an 11-foot extension, Ray’s mission was to trim any tree branches five feet or closer to the work carriage.

“There are only three or four places that need to be trimmed,” Peterson said.

The work carriage can be installed and taken off the tram in about 15 minutes, and will be parked at the top of the tramway when it’s not in use. Peterson borrowed a second carriage from the Aspen Skiing Co.

The passenger cabins will be installed in pairs, about 15 feet apart on the cable, in each quadrant of the tramway cable.

Peterson compared their placement to the face of an analog watch. Pairs of cabins will be installed at the 3, 6, 9 and 12 positions. The cable will slow to a creep when opposing sets reach the top and bottom tramway stations, so passengers can get on and off. The tram will speed up again until the other sets of cabins reach the terminus points, then slow to a creep for passengers.

“That’s why we call it a `pulse’ gondola,” Peterson said.

The cabins will be running for tests today and Monday. By midday Tuesday, the Poma crew will turn the tram over to its owners, Chuck and Nancy Peterson and Steve and Jeanne Beckley.

The next major project is installation of natural gas, water and gray water lines. They will be installed on tram tower cross arms from the base area at Two Rivers Plaza up to the Caverns and restaurant on top of Iron Mountain.

Peterson originally scheduled the state tramway acceptance test for March 4. But that date was pushed back while Poma, the Grand Junction tram construction company, worked out bugs in the system’s fiber optic system.

The fiber optic line runs the length of the tram, and will be used for telephones, computer systems, television surveillance cameras and computers that run and monitor the tramway itself.

“It’s a very sophisticated system,” Peterson said of the fiber optic communication system. “It’s the first Poma has installed. Before this, they used phone lines.”

The tramway to Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, which includes a 9,400-square-foot mountaintop restaurant and bar, will open this spring. The tramway will provide year-round access to the caverns atop Iron Mountain.

Contact Lynn Burton: 945-8515, ext. 534

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