The Sandia Peak Tramway is an aerial tramway situated adjacent to Albuquerque, New Mexico. It stretches from the northeast edge of the city to the crestline of the Sandia Mountains and has the world’s third longest single span. It is the longest aerial tram in the Americas.
The Sandia Peak Ski Company was cofounded by Ben Abruzzo and Robert Nordhaus (father of Nobel-prize-winning economist William Nordhaus), and Nordhaus was inspired to build a tram to the ski slope after seeing other trams during a trip to Europe.
Bell Engineering of Lucerne, Switzerland, constructed the tramway. Getting in service on May 7, 1966, the tram makes 10,500 trips each year. The tram is a type called a “double reversible jigback aerial tramway,” where “jigback” indicates that when one tram car is ascending, the other is descending.
Its two cars can carrying 50 travelers each and have various safety and backup systems, such as numerous emergency braking systems and a grounding system that makes sure the safety of passengers in case of a lightning strike. New tram cars were set up in 1986, and brand-new track cables in 2009. New tram cars were once again installed in May 2016.
The tramway rises the high western side of the highest portion of the Sandia Mountains, from a base elevation of 6,559 feet (1,999 m) to a top elevation of 10,378 feet (3,163 m). A trip up the mountain takes fifteen minutes to rise 3,819 ft (1,164 m), and the normal operating speed of the tram is 12 miles per hour (19 km/h).
Approximately four “flights” leave every hour from the base and leading departure stations. The view from the tram includes all of Albuquerque and roughly 11,000 square miles (28,000 square kilometers) of the New Mexico countryside.
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