The First Chairlift

Ruud Mountain Chair with Mount Baldy in Background
Ruud Mountain Charlift with Mount Baldy in background – Photo courtesy of Ed Pearson

The first chairlift was installed at Sun Valley, Idaho, in 1936 and began operation in December.  Pete Davis was the first with the correct answer and also pointed out that the lift was on Dollar Mountain and not Mount Baldy where most of Sun Valley’s skiing occurs today.  Actually there were two Sun Valley chairlifts built in 1936: one on Dollar Mountain and the other on Proctor Mountain.  Later in 1938 a third chairlift was built on Ruud Mountain which still stands today, but is not operational. 

Ed Pearson recently visited Sun Valley and hiked both Proctor and Ruud Mountains.  Ed took the photos of the remaining Ruud Mountain chairlift that accompany this post.  Ed also contributed the following:

Ruud Mountain Chairlift Valley View
Ruud Mountain Chairlift Valley View – Photo courtesy of Ed Pearson

“Sun Valley was begun by Union Pacific Railroad as a destination resort
to increase ridership on the Railroad. The chairlifts were designed by
Union Pacific and patterned after equipment used to load bananas from
shore to ships. Proctor Mountain was named for Charlie Proctor, a
Dartmouth skier and competitor in the 1928 Olympics for the United
States. He assisted Union Pacific in designing the Sun Valley resort.”

Of course Stowe’s first chairlift, the old single chair, began operation in 1940.  On those cold days when you needed 2 or more of the famous blankets to survive the ride up the single chair, it must have been difficult to believe that the lift was inspired by a tropical banana-loader!

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