By David Schissler
(September 2012) As a skier growing up in New England I’ve always had a deep respect for Cannon. Descending its’ fearsome “front four” has long been a rite of passage. So steep, so bumpy (and before snowmaking often so icy) just getting to the bottom is a victory. But, what really attracted me was North America’s first tram. It was my first “European” skiing experience. I can still remember my first World Cup race there back in the late ’60s and riding up with Jean-Claude Killy (I can’t help but wonder how many of you even know who that is. FYI…he was the first man ever to take Olympic Gold in slalom, giant slalom and downhill in the same Olympics, occurring in 1968 in Grenoble, France). More recently New Hampshire native Bode Miller has been a frequent skier there.
It’s hard to believe, but the Cannon tram has been operating since June 28, 1938 when the original Aerial Tramway was dedicated and in its first year carried 163,000 passengers to the mountain’s summit. From 1938 to its 1980 retirement, the original tram transported more than 6.5 million passengers on a scenic one-mile journey to Cannon’s summit. Since then a modern tram, with its twin 80-passenger red and yellow cabins nicknamed “Ketchup and Mustard,” has continued the tradition, traveling at a speed of 1,500 feet per minute with an hourly passenger capacity of three times the original tramway.
“Cannon has such a rich history,” says Cannon Mountain general manager, John DeVivo. “The Tramway really changed the economy of the region. As its proponents predicted, it proved a sound financial investment for the state” and confirmed the viability of skiing as an industry in New Hampshire. Cannon’s success encouraged those in the private sector to invest in the burgeoning sport, and the ski industry in New Hampshire grew and prospered.” Today, skiing in New Hampshire produces 10 percent of jobs in the state in winter, while tourism is the state’s second largest industry.
“We’re currently making plans for celebrations and special promotions that will run throughout the winter season, all leading up to June 28, 2013, when we’ll celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Tramway’s opening,” continued DeVivo. “Stay tuned for updates that we’ll be announcing on our website www.CannonMt.com, on our Facebook page and in the press.”
If you’re in Cannon’s neck of the woods this winter I strongly recommend you take the time to experience a true gem.
By David Schissler