Tram History

The tram in 1958!
The Tram in 1958.

The Estes Park Trail Gazette has a great history of the Tram here as well!

The Estes Park Aerial Tramway was designed and built by Robert Heron. Mr. Heron became involved with tramways during World War II. The 10th Mountain Division contracted the engineering company Mr. Heron worked for to design a portable tramway for use in Italy and Germany. The task was assigned to Mr. Heron. A book entitled “The Tramway Builders”, by Philip A. Lunday and Charles M. Hampton gives the history about these tramways and the men who built them.

After the war Mr. Heron traveled to Europe to study the tramways and became more fascinated with their design and capabilities. Because of the steep terrain, many trams in Europe do not require any towers to support the wire ropes. The entire length is a free span between the bottom and the top stations. The Estes Park Aerial Tramway utilizes this design. A free span is fairly uncommon in the United States and this type of design affords a very smooth ride.

Mr. Heron also became one of the pioneering chair lift builders for the United States ski industry and built the first double chair lift in this country.

The Estes Park Aerial Tramway opened to the public in July, 1955. Since then it has safely carried more than 3 million people to the summit of Prospect Mountain.

Robert Heron managed the tramway until his death in 1999. At that point, John Heron, Robert’s son was able to move to Estes Park and continue in his father’s footsteps. With John’s passing in 2022, the tram did not operate in 2023 (nor in 2020 due to the pandemic).

However, on March 21st, 2024, the Heron family sold controlling interest in the tram (though still maintained significant family ownership) to Gondola Ventures, who re-opened it for business on May 25th, 2024!