Riblet Tramway Company

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This article is about the tramway company. For the article on the cut of meat by the same name, see riblets.
Riblet's first chairlift, the Magic Mile at Timberline, as seen in the early 1940s. In the background is Timberline Lodge.


The Riblet Tramway Company of Spokane, Washington[1] was once the largest ski chairlift manufacturer in the world.

The Riblet Tramway Company was founded by Byron Christian Riblet. Riblet was born in Osage, Iowa, in 1865 and earned a degree in Civil Engineering. Arriving in Spokane in 1885, his first work was laying out railway and streetcar lines. He also built dams and irrigation projects.

In 1896, Riblet was contracted to erect a Finlayson ore[clarification needed] tramway at the Noble Five silver mine in Sandon, British Columbia, to assist in moving ore down Reco Mountain to the mill at Cody. Apparently Riblet thought he was coming to build a streetcar line. Even so, Riblet decided he could improve the mining tram performance. Over time, Riblet raised more tramways in the booming mining district, building thirty aerial tramways in the next ten years. Riblet returned to Spokane in 1908, after working in the Kootenays, to found the Riblet Tramway Company. This company specialised in mining tramways building them in Alaska, Canada, the Western United States and South America.

Riblet built its first chairlift in 1938 at Mount Hood, Oregon. Byron Riblet died in 1952, but the company boomed with the new, postwar ski resorts. Skiing gained in popularity, and soon ski lifts became the major part of the Riblet Tramway Company's business. They built numerous lifts, particularly in Washington, Oregon and California, and even as far away as Australia. The company installed over 400 chairlifts. They have the most double chair lifts operating in the U.S.

The company only built fixed-grip lifts, where the chair grip is woven into the haul rope rather than clamped onto it; because of the limited market for such lifts, it announced in early 2003 that the firm was no longer viable and was going out of business.[2]

Installations[edit]

Riblet chairlifts can be found in many places still in service, though the majority have been removed. This table contains those documented by SkiLifts.org as of December 28, 2007. More Riblet chairlifts may be in existence, though some listed below may have already been removed. There is a total of 160 existing Riblet chairlifts and 103 no longer installed.

Location Area name remaining removed notes ref
Alaska Eaglecrest Ski Area, Juneau 3 0 "Black Bear" "Hooter" and "Ptarmigan" chairs
California Alpine Meadows 0 1 removed was hybrid with YAN [1]
California Boreal Mountain Resort 2 0 [2]
California Dodge Ridge 5 0 [3]
California Heavenly Ski Resort 2 0 2 triples, one a hybrid with YAN [4]
California Iron Mountain 3 0 "planning 2 more" [5]
California June Mountain 4 0 2 are hybrid manufacturers [6]
California Mammoth Mountain Ski Area 0 6 [7]
California Northstar at Tahoe 0 6 [8]
California Squaw Valley Ski Resort 0 6 [9]
California Badger Pass Ski Area 0 1 [10]
Colorado Aspen Mountain 1 4 updated in 1985 by Poma [11]
Colorado Aspen Highlands 0 9 [12]
Colorado Breckenridge Ski Resort 6 2 one remaining chair is a triple [13]
Colorado Buttermilk 0 1 [14]
Colorado Crested Butte Mountain Resort 2 1 [15]
Colorado Durango Mountain ski area 3 0 [16]
Colorado Hesperus 1 0 [17]
Colorado Keystone Resort 0 2 [18]
Colorado Powderhorn ski area 0 1 [19]
Colorado Aspen/Snowmass 5 2 One double remains now [20]
Colorado Vail Ski Resort 3 3 [21]
Colorado Winter Park Resort 1 4 [22]
Idaho Bogus Basin 4 1 3 doubles, 1 triple [23]
Idaho Brundage Mountain 0 2 [24]
Idaho Lookout Pass ski area 1 0 [25]
Idaho Schweitzer Mountain 4 4 [26]
Idaho Silver Mountain 1 0 [27]
Idaho Sun Valley 1 4 [28]
Indiana Perfect North 5 0 2 quads and 3 triples
Massachusetts Jiminy Peak 3 1 double, 2 triples
Michigan Blackjack Ski Resort 4 0 4 doubles [29]
Michigan Boyne Highlands Snow Ski Resort 7 0 4 triples and 3 quads [30]
Michigan Big Powderhorn Ski Resort 9 0 9 doubles
Michigan Boyne Mountain 7 0 1 double, 2 triples, 4 quads [31]
Michigan Nub's Nob 6 0 1 double, 2 triples, 3 quads [32]
Michigan Pine Mountain ski area 3 1 [33]
Michigan Snow Snake ski area 1 0 a triple chair [34]
Minnesota Giants Ridge 5 0 2 triples, 3 doubles [35]
Montana Big Sky Resort 1 0 [36]
Montana Bridger Bowl Ski Area 2 2 Bridger and Dear Park lifts removed summer 2010 [37]
Montana Discovery Basin Ski Area 3 0 [38]
Montana Montana Snowbowl 2 1 [39]
Montana [40] 3 0 [41]
New Hampshire Crotched Mountain 3 0 [42]
New Hampshire Mount Sunapee Resort 1 0 begun in 1986 by Riblet, completed 1987 by Doppelmayr [43]
New Hampshire Wildcat Mountain Ski Area 2 2 the two remaining are triples [44]
New Mexico Ski Apache 4 1 2 triples and 2 doubles remain; 1 double removed
New Mexico Ski Santa Fe 1 0 [45]
New York West Mountain 1 0 #2 Chair to top of mountain, installed early 1960s http://www.skiwestmountain.com/
Oregon Hoodoo (ski area) 3 3 1 double, 1 triple, 1 quad [46]
Oregon Mount Ashland 3 0 1 double, 2 triples [47]
Oregon Mount Bachelor ski area 0 7 [48]
Oregon Mount Hood Meadows 3 1 [49]
Oregon Mount Hood Skibowl 4 1 [50]
Oregon Oregon State Fair 1 0 [51]
Oregon Summit Ski Area 1 0 [52]
Oregon Timberline Lodge ski area 0 5 [53]
Oregon Willamette Pass ski area 3 2 3 triples [54]
Utah Brighton Ski Resort 1 1 [55]
Utah The Canyons 1 2 [56]
Vermont Mount Snow 0 1 old Carinthia double was removed
Washington Mount Baker Ski Area 3 5 3 quads remain [57]
Washington Stevens Pass Ski Area 4 4 1 triple remains [58]
Washington The Summit at Snoqualmie 12 6 2 triples [59]
Washington Crystal Mountain 4 2 one is a hybrid with Hall [60]
Washington White Pass Ski Area 2 2 #2 1958, #4 1984 [61]
Washington Mission Ridge Ski Area 3 1 [62]
Washington Mount Spokane Ski and Snowboard Park 5 0 [63]
Washington #Loup Loup 0 1 [64]
Washington 49 Degrees North Ski Area 4 0 [65]
Wyoming Grand Targhee Resort 1 0 [66]
Wyoming Jackson Hole Mountain Resort 0 1 [67]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Riblet website, retrieved 2012-10-18 
  2. ^ Sowder, Douglas (2003-05-13). "To: Our Friends in the Ski Industry". Riblet Tramway Company. Retrieved 2007-01-23. 

Sources[edit]

Martin J. Wells (December 2005). Tramway Titan: Byron Riblet, Wire Rope and Western Resource Towns. Trafford Publishing, Victoria. ISBN 1-4120-5093-6. 

External links[edit]