Jackson Hole Resort's Tram Retires this Weekend After forty years in operation, the aerial tram at Jackson Hole Resort in Wyoming makes the final run of its final ski season this weekend. Next year, skiers will ride chair lifts to the summit. Corky Ward, the ski patrol director in Jackson Hole, talks with Melissa block about the end of an era.
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Jackson Hole Resort's Tram Retires this Weekend

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Jackson Hole Resort's Tram Retires this Weekend

Jackson Hole Resort's Tram Retires this Weekend

Jackson Hole Resort's Tram Retires this Weekend

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After forty years in operation, the aerial tram at Jackson Hole Resort in Wyoming makes the final run of its final ski season this weekend. Next year, skiers will ride chair lifts to the summit. Corky Ward, the ski patrol director in Jackson Hole, talks with Melissa block about the end of an era.

MICHELE NORRIS, Host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Michele Norris

MELISSA BLOCK, Host:

Last week, we asked Renny McKay, of Wyoming Public Radio, to take a ride. He sent us the sounds of the tram.

(SOUNDBITE OF PEOPLE ON THE TRAM)

BLOCK: These days, the tram is packed with skiers like Nick Anderson, taking in the views and wondering what will replace it.

NICK ANDERSON: We're going to miss the tram. I'm pretty sure there'll be another one here in a few years. Who knows what the solution will be. But I'd put money on five years, but, we'll miss it. Over 4,000 feet in eleven minutes.

BLOCK: Corky Ward signed on to work with the ski school a few years later. He's not the resort's ski patrol director. He rides the tram every day.

CORKY WARD: It's a huge part of the character of Jackson Hole. It's a year-round icon of the valley.

BLOCK: And you're looking at that tram from where you are right now.

WARD: Yes, we're standing at the top dock, and if you can hear the hum in the background, that's the cables going around the return shivs, and there, as one car comes up there's another one going down at the same speed. And they do call it a double reversible jig-back, which means when one's at the bottom, the other one better be at the top.

BLOCK: Or something is wrong.

WARD: Or something is very wrong, yes.

BLOCK: Will you miss it, yourself?

WARD: Oh, absolutely. You know, I've been riding it since 1971, and then a first-year employee in '72, and I'm absolutely spoiled with the tram. And I know that the (unintelligible) are going to do it right and they will put in a new lift to the top, be it a bi-cable, gondola, or a new tram, of which I hope it's a tram.

BLOCK: You think it might go all the way up?

WARD: Absolutely. I believe so.

BLOCK: That'll cost a lot of money.

WARD: Yes, it's going to be twenty-plus million dollars to do the entire installation, and I would imagine at least a year's worth of construction.

BLOCK: Do you figure when the tram does come down, will there be people who want a piece of it? I mean, when they take subway cars out of service, sometimes there are subway buffs who want to hang on to a car or a seat.

WARD: I'm sure there may be some public auctions of pieces and parts of the tram cables, carriers, carriages, wheels. There's some pretty cool pieces and parts in here.

BLOCK: Do you think you'd want one, yourself?

WARD: I would hope they would give me one, as a memento of my living and working here for so many years. But, yeah, I'd take a tram car and put it in my backyard, you bet.

WARD: Have it as a barbeque pit.

BLOCK: Mr. Ward, thanks so much for talking with us.

WARD: You betcha.

BLOCK: That's Corky Ward, ski patrol director at Jackson Hole, Wyoming. His retirement this year just happens to coincide with the closing of the resort's aerial tram. The tram's last ski season run will be this Sunday. Next year, skiers will ride a series of chair lifts to the summit. The tram will reopen this summer for sightseers before it closes for good in the fall.

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