Queries, comments and responses regarding the history of skiing and snowboarding.
Sunday, June 27, 2010
First lift of any sort
I am doing a book on "FIRSTS" and am trying to determine the "world's first ski lift" and all the details surrounding it. Can you please help me? What /where/when was the first? Who built it? Is it still around? Any/all information greatly appreciated. Thanks for considerations, Wilson Casey "Trivia" Guinness World Record Holder Spartanburg, SC Depends on how you define ski lift. Passenger-carrying ropeways to cross rivers and climb cliffs date back to the 17th century, and maybe earlier in Asia. The first mechanical devices to carry skiers uphill were railroads, beginning in 1868. Seehttp://www.skiinghistory.org/skitrains.html The first electric-powered cable cars went into operation beginning around 1885, originally for industrial applications (hauling mine ore, etc). Alpine resorts began installing them around the turn of the century. The first purpose-built cable to pull skiers was set up by Robert Winterhalder, a hotel owner in Schollach in Germany's Schwarzwald, in 1908. He took out a patent the following year. It was an overhead cable running on four or five wooden towers, driven by an electric motor, itself powerd by a small hydroelectric plant at the hotel. Cable run was 280 meters over a 32-meter vertical -- about 100 feet. Skiers or tobogganers could grab a handle or harness. Seehttp://www.schollach.de/skilift.htm(in German, with photos). The first powered recreational lift in North America was built for the winter carnival in Truckee, Calif. in 1910. Built by one J. Kirchner, it used a fixed steam engine and a cable to haul toboggans up a 950-foot run. We consider it a ski lift just because local skiers jumped into the track, grabbed the cable and rode right on up. The first rope tow for skiing was built by Alec Foster at Shawbridge, Quebec in 1933. The first chairlift was built by Jim Curran, a Union Pacific engineer, at Sun Valley in 1936. It was patterned after industrial ropeways. Hope this helps. All this information is available online with some judicious googling. Mort and Seth