Cannon Mountain Tram gets vote of confidence from its fans

By BRACKETT LYONS

Monitor staff

Published: 02-28-2022 11:16 AM

Cannon Mountain’s iconic yet aging tramway received a vote of confidence from its fans.

Given the options of renovating the current tram, getting a new one, or switching to a gondola, 62 of 63 attendees at a state Division of Parks and Recreation meeting earlier this month voted for a new tram.

Installed in 1932, Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway was the first of its kind in North America. The current model, put in place in 1980, is on its last legs.

Parks and Recreation officials said the cars, hanger arms, carriage trolleys, electromechanical components, motor and braking systems are reaching an age where it made send to evaluate different options for the future. The need isn’t yet urgent with the tram still able to run in its current state for the next three to five years.

The cost of total replacement is about $25 million, according to Cannon and Franconia Notch State Park’s general manager John DeVivo and director of the Division of Parks and Recreation Philip Bryce. If that option were chosen, construction would last at least two summers and one winter.

Despite the strong vote from the public, nothing is official yet.

“We’re still at that phase where we’re just going over the data we’re getting from the Public Information Session,” said Brent Wucher, spokesman for the Division Parks and Recreation. “Definitely something has to be done with the tram. Right now it’s a perfect time to really start to examine it.”

Some of the funding for the upgrade could come from the American Rescue Plan Act, which must be used by 2026, or from otheer sources. The new tram would have a similar lifespan as the first two, 40 to 80 years so the sizable investment will be long-term, which is one of the benefits of replacing the tram over upgrading the parts piecemeal. 

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A further benefit of a new tram could be an increase in capacity from 80 people to 100, while maintaining the same footprint as the current model. However, the increased weight of the 100-person tram would likely mean the towers and bases will have to be replaced. 

And for anyone worried about losing the beloved yellow and red tram cars, known as “ketchup and mustard,” don’t fret. Bryce has every intention of keeping things red and yellow as well as paying the current cars their “due respect” once retired.

Editor’s note: This article has been changed to clarify that no final decisions have been made for the Cannon Mountain Tramway.

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