Saturday, October 06, 2018

Mt. Cranmore Skimobiles, 1958

The four slides that I am sharing today were a mystery to me - it appeared to show some sort of ski lift, or tiny funicular railroad, or... something. What is it? Where was it? With little to go on, it took me a while to figure it out! 

What we're looking at is the Mt. Cranmore (New Hampshire) "Skimobiles", designed and built in 1936 by local mechanic George Morton. According to one website: Morton’s lift featured 60 cars that ascended a wooden trestle, pulled by a cable under the track. Gibson named the new lift the "Skimobile", and the ski world was introduced to a new form of uphill transportation.


The Skimobiles turned out to be a popular Summer attraction as well, taking visitors to the top of Mt. Cranmore to take in spectacular views. The first Skimobile trestle ascended Cranmore to the halfway point, and its popularity in its first season, as well as Hannes Schneider’s insistence, led to the construction in the summer of 1939 of an upper trestle that reached the summit of the mountain.

It really does look like fun!


At the transition point between the upper and lower trestles of the Skimobile, passengers had to change cars. This elaborate platform and pair of buildings was located where the two trestles met. This was the only Skimobile ever built with two trestles, although a similar lift, called a trestle car, was built at the Homestead Resort in Virginia.


According to another websiteThe skimobile continued to be a popular lift for years drawing both winter and summer visitors. In 1989, most likely to make room for more modern lifts with greater uphill capacity, the Skimobile was dismantled. Its cars can be seen in front of various businesses in the North Conway area. There is also a car at Cranmore Mountain and another at the New England Ski Museum.


YouTube has some grainy home movie footage of the Skimobiles in action. We miss you, li'l Skimobiles!







13 comments:

Nanook said...

Major-

Oh - that 'good 'ol American ingenuity'-! What a fun-looking contraption. I love the metal, lawn chair-like seats. Only wish I had a chance to have ridden on it. What a great post. (Also, what great quality images).

Thanks, Major.

Melissa said...

Such pretty surroundings.

Chuck said...

This is really cool.

JC Shannon said...

What a cool idea this guy had. I'm with Nanook on this one, I only wish I had a chance to ride it. Glad to know that they didn't scrap all the cars. Thanks Major for the great photos.

K. Martinez said...

I love stuff like this. Those little stand alone attractions out in the middle of nowhere can be fun. This is special because of that vintage feel to the whole thing.

Here's what's popular now at the Cranmore Resort and these Mountain/Alpine coaster are proliferating all across the U.S. in wilderness areas and resorts.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-XqTF2LAs1Y

Thanks, Major and welcome back!

Omnispace said...

Add my name to list of contraption lovers here! Though elaborate, the Skimobiles seem home-brewed. The red/green "Christmas colors" make it very cheerful.

And, fun videos! My guess is that the man off-loading the kid had a second job as a baggage handler at the local airport. Second video seems to have a more reasonable pace - perfect companion for Midnight Cowboy. Thanks Major!

steve2wdw said...

Great photos....I rode this as a teenager in the mid 70's. For a little clarification, the first photo is at the bottom of the first stage of the skimobile. The second photo, with the 22 1/2 angle sign, is taken from the base of stage 2. The 3rd photo is a shot on the return down the mountain into the base area of stage 1, and the 4th photo is a return shot on stage 2. In this 4th photo, you can barely see the top of stage 1 to the left of the base turnaround of stage 2. I never skied Cranmore, so I never rode this during the winter, but it was a really cool ride during the summer. It was a huge deal when it was removed. Just a little added trivia....to the left of the parking lot in photo 3, used to be a huge, clay court, tennis stadium, which hosted the Volvo International Tennis Tournament from '75 until '84. We got to see Jimmy Connors play in '75 and '76. One day of play offered very discounted tickets to owners of Volvos, which is how we got to go. The Skimobile was a huge draw during tournament time.

steve2wdw said...

....and I love the YouTube videos, especially the 2nd featuring Midnight Cowboy. I don't know how longs it's been since I've heard that song. Instantly took me way back in time!

JC Shannon said...

"Hey...I'm walkin' here!" Love the youtube videos. There seems to still be a demand for fun stuff to do at a ski resort in the summer. Steve, you are lucky to have seen this wicked cool ride in person! Thanks for all the insider info. And thanks to Ken for the link.

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, while any ski lift would probably fun in the summertime, this one looks particularly good. I’m sorry they removed it, but perhaps it had become unprofitable.

Melissa, I’ve never been to Hew Hampshire, but I’m sure it has many beautiful areas!

Chuck, thanks.

Jonathan, you’d think that more people would have wanted one of the cars as a souvenir (assuming that they had been offered). Only two survivors of what appears to be scores isn’t very many.

K. Martinez, I had a great time, but it’s nice to be back! Like you, I love stuff like this, and was happy to find them in the box of random slides. They were definitely “keepers”. Hey, that coaster thing actually looks pretty fun too.

Omnispace, I was thinking about how expensive it must have been to have all of those unique vehicles manufactured (as simple as they are). I had no idea that music was from “Midnight Cowboy” (it’s been quite a while since I’ve seen that movie).

steve2wdw, very cool that you got to ride this! Thank you for all of the addition info for each photo. How amazing that there used to be a big tennis tournament there, it looks like “the sticks”. And yet, in those days, Jimmy Connors, Bjorn Borg, Ilie Nastase, Arthur Ashe, and so on - were big big stars!

steve2wdw, if it isn’t “Everybody’s Talkin’”, I won’t remember it. I do remember the last time I saw Midnight Cowboy, I was struck by how many times (MANY!) you hear that Harry Nilsson song.

Jonathan, if I recall correctly, Midnight Cowboy was one of those big Hollywood movies that was rated “X”, in those early days of movie ratings. So weird.

Nanook said...

Major-

Not only was Midnight Cowboy X-rated; it was the only X-rated film to receive the Oscar for Best Picture.

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, when I think of all the X-rated movies I've watched, it's hard to believe that "Midnight Cowboy" is the only one to win Best Picture!

Anonymous said...

I hope that thing has brakes.

JG