Colorado Chairlift Timeline
1876 - The Von Roll Tramway Company was founded.
1889 - The Doppelmayr Company opened in Austria.
1896 - The Riblet Tramway Company began making mining trams in Washington State.
1928 - The Garaventa Lift Company was founded in Switzerland.
1932 - The first rope tow was installed in North America (Canada).*
1936 - Colorado's first rope tow was installed by the Pikes Peak Ski Club at the Glen Cove.*
1937 - Berthoud Pass Ski Area installed a 878 foot long tow. *
1937 - Climax Molybdenum Company installed a rope tow, which had a length of 1,500 feet.  
Lights were used for night skiing.*
1939 - Gunnison Ski Club installs the state's first ski lift made from old mining tram parts at the
Pioneer Ski Area. *
1940 - Winter Park Resort opened when the Denver Mountain Park System installed a J-bar with
funding from the Public Works Administration. *
1942 - Red Mountain Ski Area outside of Glenwood Springs opened with a wooden-tower single
chair.  The towers are later replaced with steel.*
1942 - The US Army built what was called the world's longest T-bar at Camp Hale.  This area
was later renamed Ski Cooper.*
1946 - Aspen Ski Area was born with "the longest chairlift in the world."  The lift was a single
chair built by Heron.  *
1946 - The Heron Engineering Company located in Denver, Colorado begins to construct ski lifts.  
The company was headed by Robert and Webb Heron.*
1947 - A combination T-bar/single chair was built on Emerald Mountain on the current Howelsen
Hill Ski Area.  It was constructed by Ernest Constam, but later removed in 1954 because of
liability problems.  The lift line is still visible today! *
1947 - Heron installs a double chair at Berthoud Pass Ski Area.  The lift was originally dubbed the
"first double in the world" but the Hodoo Ski Area in Oregon contracted Riblet Engineering a year
prior to install a double.  @
1949 - The town of Breckenridge installs a rope tow downtown, across from the current ski area.
1951 - The first "poma" ski lift in the US was installed at Arapahoe Basin Ski Area by Larry
1954 - The Hidden Valley Ski Area opened in Rocky Mountain National Park, installing 2 surface
lifts. *
1955 - Hall Ski Lift Company was founded by Victor Hall in New York.
1959 - The Vail Ski Area is mapped out and eventually opens in 1961 with a couple Riblet double
chairs and a Bell gondola.  Vail is credited as having the first gondola in the state, beating Crested
Butte's three passenger Carlvario-Savio gondola by only months! *
1971 - Thiokol entered the lift business.  Some of their engineers would later splinter off as CTEC.
1976 - An accident on Vail's Lionshead gondola leaves a handful of people dead when wind blew
a cabin off of the haul rope.  Von Roll was contracted to retrofit the lift before it reopened. #
1976 - The lift company CTEC was founded by Jan Leonard and Mark Ballantyne. ^
1981 - Poma USA was established in Grand Junction, Colorado. ^
1981 - Breckenridge installs the world's first high-speed quad.  The lift was built by Doppelmayr
and began at the base of peak 9.  #
1982 - Cuchara Ski Valley opens in southern Colorado with three Riblet lifts.  @
1982 - Conquistador expands by adding two Doppelmayr ski lifts. @
1983 - Von Roll buys the Hall Ski lift company.
1985 - Vail installs four new Doppelmayr high-speed quads, easing long lift lines at Mid-Vail, Vail
Village, Northwoods, and the Game Creek Bowl. #
1986 - The Teller lift at Keystone fails when a faulty weld comes lose.  The lift was built by Yan
(Lift Engineering) and was rebuilt after the incident and renamed the Ruby Triple.  It was later
replaced by a Poma high-speed six-pack.  #
1986 - Geneva Basin planed to reopen with a new Borvig triple chair going up the
Knicker-Knocker run and also with a new name, Alpenbach.  Plans failed leaving a partly
completed ski lift sitting on the area for the next six or so years. @
1986 - Steamboat replaces their original gondola with an eight passenger Doppelmayr gondola.  ^
1986 - Aspen's current six-passenger gondola was installed up Ajax Mountain by Poma. ^
1988 - Vail opened the China Bowl with a new Doppelmayr high-speed quad.
1988 - Berthoud Pass closed when the double chair breaks down. @
1990 - Loveland installs Chair 8, a Yan fixed grip quad that was modified by Poma in 1996. ^
1991 - Keystone opens the Outback Bowl, installing 3 new ski lifts that summer.  These lifts
include: Wayback Quad, Outback Express, and the Outpost Gondola. ^
1992 - The Timberline lift is constructed at Winter Park adding bowl skiing to the area.  The lift is
a used Heron-Poma double chair. ^
1996 - Vail removed the old six-passenger Bell gondola from Lionshead and replaced it with a 12
person CTEC Garaventa high-speed gondola with CWA cabins.^
1997 - Eldora opened the Indian Peaks area with a new CTEC Stealth quad chair. ^
1998 - Loveland Ski Area built "the world's highest quad chair" by contracting Poma to install a lift
to the top of The Ridge.  ^
1998 - Copper Mountain installed the state's first six person chair called The Super Bee. ^
1998 - Steamboat contracted CTEC/Garaventa to install the new quad chair in the Pioneer Ridge
expansion area.
1998 - Doppelmayr bought the Von Roll Ski Lift Company.
1999 - Winter Park Resort replaced the Apollo and Eskimo fixed-grip lifts with a new Poma
high-speed quad.
1999 - Vail contracted Poma to install the first lifts in Blue Sky Basin, increasing the skiable acres
by one-third.  ^
1999 - Arsonists set fire to chairs 3, 4, 5, and 14 on Vail Mountain to protest the construction of
Blue Sky Basin. ^
1999 - Breckenridge replaces the Quicksilver Quad with the Quick Silver Super Six.  The nation's
first double loading system built by Poma.
2000 - Leitner bought Poma to form one company, Leitner-Poma.
2000 - Durango Mountain Resorts installed Colorado's first Doppelmayr six-person chairlift. ^
2001 - Telluride opens the Prospect Bowl with three Doppelmayr quads.^
2002 - Doppelmayr and CTEC Garaventa merge and relocate their headquarters to Salt Lake
City.  Doppelmayr was previously located in Golden, Colorado.
2002 - Breckenridge opened Peak 7 with intermediate terrain and six-person chair built by Leitner
- Poma.  They also replaced the 4-Chair with the new Peak 8 Super Connect. ^
2003 - Riblet Tramway Company stops producing lifts and solely makes spare parts.
2004 - Partek decides to enter the high-speed lift business.
2004 - Crested Butte opens more intermediate terrain with the addition of the Prospect Quad built
by Leitner-Poma.
2004 - Beaver Creek installs two new high-speed quads to complete the village connect.  They
were constructed by Doppelmayr CTEC.
2005 - Partek is bought by Doppelmayr CTEC.  This leaves only 2 lift manufacturers in the USA.
2005 - Leitner-Poma installs the highest lift in the U.S. at Breckenridge Resort.  The chair is a
high-speed quad with only 15 carriers at tops out at over 12,840 feet!
2005 - Major construction begins at Snowmass with the recreation of their base area.  Projects for
this year include a new six-passenger lift and the Mall Gondola.
2006 - Snowmass and Beaver Creek add their first gondola systems.
2006 - Kendall Mountain removes their rope tow and replaces it with a used double chair.
2007 - Arapahoe Basin opens the Montezuma Bowl with a new fixed quad chair built by
2007 - Winter Park installs the "world's highest six-passenger lift," which replaces the Timberline
double chair.
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* Colorado Ski Museum
^ Resort Website/Staff interview
# Colorado Skier
@ Lost Resorts Pages