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One of Gatlinburg’s most iconic attractions is celebrating a big birthday this month! The Ober Gatlinburg Aerial Tramway officially turned 45 years old on August 5th. First introduced in 1973, the Aerial Tramway is a gorgeous cable car ride that takes visitors from The Strip up to the Ober Gatlinburg Amusement Park & Ski Area.
To mark the anniversary of the Aerial Tramway’s introduction, Ober Gatlinburg has added a special display called “Where the Earth Meets the Sky: The Gatlinburg Aerial Tramway Gallery.” Read on to learn some fun facts about the tramway and more info about the brand new gallery.
One of Only 17 Trams in America
According to local news station WATE, the Ober Gatlinburg Aerial Tramway is one of just 17 running trams in the entire nation! Furthermore, the Gatlinburg Tramway is the only tram in Tennessee and Ober Gatlinburg is the only ski resort in the state.
Before the Aerial Tramway was built, visitors to Ober Gatlinburg had to make their way to the top of Mt. Harrison by car, which wasn’t always an easy drive during the icy winter months. The owners of Ober Gatlinburg decided that a tram would provide a safer, more comfortable, and more scenic way for guests to travel to the resort. Construction on the tram began in September of 1972 and the cable car was up and running just a year later.
The Aerial Tramway consists of two counterbalanced cable cars that can each carry up to 120 passengers. The ride from downtown Gatlinburg up to the ski resort lasts 10 minutes and spans 2.1 miles. Aside from convenience, the best part of riding the Aerial Tramway is the breathtaking bird’s-eye view of the Great Smoky Mountains that passengers enjoy.
In an interview with WATE, Ober Gatlinburg spokesperson Kate Barido explains that “every ride on the tram is different, even if you ride it a couple times in an hour. The clouds move over. The light changes and hits the mountains in a different way, and so basically it provides a different experience every time you ride it.”
About the Aerial Tramway Gallery at Ober
“Where the Earth Meets the Sky,” the new gallery at Ober, is dedicated to the history of the ski resort and the aerial tramway. According to Barido, the display “highlights the ski area when it was first being built, and then fast forwards to the early ‘70s when we started building the tram.”
The gallery is full of fascinating photos of the tram’s construction and its maintenance throughout the years. In one 2007 photo, guests can see the new tram cars, which were built in Switzerland, being installed. Visitors can also take a peek inside the tram machine room to see how it operates.
Buy Tickets for the Ober Gatlinburg Aerial Tramway
When you buy your Aerial Tramway tickets through Visit My Smokies, you’ll save $1.00 per ticket and get free cancelation up to a certain date. To purchase your tickets, click the green box below: