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 aerial tramways in the booming mining district, building 30 in the next decade. Riblet returned to Spokane in 1908, after working in the Kootenays, to found the Riblet Tramway Company. The company, which specialized in mining tramways, built 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 postwar rise of ski resorts. Skiing gained in popularity, and soon ski lifts became the major part of the Riblet Tramway Company's business. They built more than 400 lifts, particularly in Washington, Oregon, and California, and as far away as Australia. They have the most double chair lifts operating in the U.S.
The company only built fixed-grip lifts, whose chair grip is woven into the haul rope rather than clamped onto it. But other technologies eventually proved more popular. In early 2003, the firm announced that it was no longer viable and would go out of business.
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.