In 1962, Gatlinburg’s premier Ski Area opened for business—only accessible by a long and curvy mountain road. For over a decade, an idea was explored to provide a safer and more comfortable way to reach the Ski Area. Construction of the Tramway was completed in August of 1973 and is now celebrating its 49th Anniversary having carried MILLIONS OF PEOPLE to the top of the mountain at Ober Gatlinburg!
Built by Von Roll, LTD of Bern, Switzerland (now part of Austrian manufacturer Doppelmayr Garaventa),
the original Ober Gatlinburg Aerial Tramway began operation August 5, 1973. The original
tram cabins were in service for 34 years thanks to the constant attention and upkeep from the
Ober Gatlinburg Maintenance staff.
New cabins were purchased from Doppelmayr Garaventa CTEC and built by CWA Constructions in Olten,
Switzerland. Construction began November 2006 and was completed in mid-March 2007.
Installation of the new tram cabins was completed on May 4, 2007. In 2021, we replaced the
existing Track Ropes and switched to an AC drive with a variable frequency controller in addition to other upgrades.
Over 20 million guests have taken the 10 minute, 2.1 mile trip ascending from 1,340 feet in
the valley to 2,676 feet on the mountain.
- 1,300 feet vertical rise
- Cabin capacity of 120 guest and 1 tram operator
- Jig-back system with two counter-balanced cabins
- Travel speed of 23 MPH with a travel time of approximately 10 minutes
1972: Through the fall and winter of 1972 the Tramway Terminals were constructed
culminating with the opening of the Tramway in 1973.
1976: By the mid 70s, Ober Gatlinburg’s Aerial Tramway had become a huge attraction for
both tourists and the media. Local and regional media outlets we there to capture the iconic
“line walkers” image as the team performed routine maintenance.
1980: This photo, taken from the Tramway circa 1980, shows the year-round artificial turf skiing that
Ober Gatlinburg offered—one of the first venues of its kind.
2001: The drive motor, brake system, and electrical system were replaced in 2001. This was
the first phase in a multi-million-dollar Tramway modernization project.
2003: Haul Cable was replaced and the computer monitoring system was
2007: In the spring modernization of the Aerial Tramway continued with the
installation of two new tram cabins. These new cabins afford guests more viewing area and a
more comfortable ride.
2021: From March 22nd to May 28th the Ober Gatlinburg Aerial Tramway closed for major
upgrades and preventative maintenance. During this time, Ober replaced the existing Track
Ropes and switched to an AC drive with a variable frequency controller. The Track Ropes
have a 50-year lifespan and replaced the original Track Ropes from 1973 when the Aerial
Tramway was built with 9-miles of steel cables. The cost of the project was $4.5 million.