Cannon Mountain could be seeing an upgrade to its famed tramway in the near future.
According to the Union Leader, officials at New Hampshire’s Franconia State Park have expressed concern about the longevity of the popular tram. The time appears to be right to seek federal funding, particularly with states receiving more than $195 billion in additional money from the American Rescue Plan, the COVID-19 aid package signed by President Joe Biden in March.
Cannon Mountain general manager John Devivo told the Union Leader that rehabilitation of the tram could cost an estimated $10 million to $15 million. Rehab would include replacing the tram cars, the hanger arms, carriage trolleys, electromechanical components, and the motor and braking system. Replacement would run anywhere from $20-$30 million.
According to the Union Leader, an upgrade would give the tram another 20 years of operation at the state-run ski area. A new tramway would last between 40-50 years. The tramway could even also be replaced by gondolas, according to the Conway Daily Sun.
The current system has been in service since 1980.
Not only is the tram an iconic, four-season fixture at Cannon, but it also provides a serious revenue stream for the state of New Hampshire. Thus, to have the tramway operating again, after it lay dormant last summer and winter due to COVID-19 protocols, is a boon for New Hampshire State Parks. The attraction is particularly popular in the summer months, when the cable car brings visitors to the 4,080-foot summit of Cannon Mountain in under ten minutes.
“We lost a ton a money by not running the tram [last year],” DeVivo told New England Ski Journal earlier this year, “probably $2 million through the summer and fall seasons, just on the tram alone.”
The current iteration of the tram carries about 420 people per hour. On average, that’s about 70 riders, plus the driver. An upgrade would increase capacity to up to 100 passengers.
The tram provides access to New Hampshire’s highest lift-accessed point, with stunning views atop the mountain. Be forewarned, however, that Cannon is not providing one-way tickets for hikers this year. Visit www.cannonmt.com/things-to-do/attractions/tram for complete information and to make a reservation.