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Union Pacific Invented First Ski Lift In Omaha

By: WOWT Email
By: WOWT Email

Union Pacific took invention to a new height when they invented the ski lift 75 years ago.

Invented in Omaha in 1936, it was known then as a chair lift. The UP chairman at the time saw that Americans had began to do more winter sports and knowing that the railroad operated through some of the most scenic, mountainous areas of the country, he had an idea for a winter sports complex.

The Sun Valley Resort in Idaho became the location for the resort in 1935, with construction beginning in 1936.

Engineers in 1,200 miles away in Omaha got to work on figuring out a way to get skiers to the slopes.

Jim Curran hit the nail on the head when he adapted a system that loaded bunches of bananas onto boats into a system to move people up the slopes by replacing hooks for the bananas with chairs.

Charlie Proctor, a famous skier from Dartmouth College was brought in to see the plans and prototypes were built.

Since Nebraska doesn't quite have mountainous terrain, to figure out the speed the lift should go, workers wore roller skates to simulate skis.

When the resort opened in December 1936, the world’s first two chair lifts were put into operation. Skiers took some time to adapt, but the invention from Omaha seem to have changed the sport for the better.

Sun Valley resort in Idaho is no longer owned by Union Pacific.


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