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Sandia Peak Tramway

From Academic Kids

The Sandia Peak Tramway, located in Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA, is the world's longest aerial tramway. It stretches from the Northeast edge of the city to Sandia Peak, the highest point of the Sandia Mountains.

A tramway car ascending Sandia Peak
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A tramway car ascending Sandia Peak
Contents

History

Bell Engineering of Lucerne, Switzerland, constructed the tramway in what they considered their most difficult tramway construction project, primarily because of the steep and rocky terrain. Entering service on May 7, 1966, the tram makes 10,500 trips per year. The tram is a type known as a 'double reversible jigback aerial tramway', where 'jigback' means that as one tram car is ascending, the other is descending. Its two cars are capable of carrying 50 passengers each and have numerous safety and backup systems to ensure the safety of the passengers.

Description

With a total diagonal distance of 14,657 feet (4467.5 metres) the Sandia Peak Tram is the longest aerial tram in the world. Mid-span, the cables are 900 feet (274 metres) above the mountainside. A trip up the mountain takes fifteen minutes to ascend 4000 feet (1219 metres), and normal operating speed of the tram is 12 miles per hour (19 kilometres per hour). This speed is one with which many riders are comfortable. Four "flights" leave every hour from the base and top departure stations. Riders who fear heights might not enjoy the ride as the sides of the tram car consist of windows that afford spectacular views over Albuquerque and over some 11,000 square miles (~28000 square kilometres) of the New Mexico countryside.

The tramway passes over Domingo Baca Canyon, often referred to as TWA Canyon. This is the site of the crash of TWA flight 206 on February 19, 1955, in which the lives of all 16 passengers and crew were lost. While much of the wreckage was removed during construction of the tramway, some still remains on the canyon floor and may be visible to riders of the tram.

Activities on top

At the top of Sandia Peak, many year-round recreational options await tramway riders. The High Finance Restaurant is directly adjacent to the top tram terminal and offers arguably the best view of any restaurant in New Mexico. Many Forest Service trails offer recreational hiking, backpacking and nature hikes to visitors. Additionally, the tram terminal is located at the top of Sandia Peak Ski Area which is on the opposite side of the mountain from the tramway and the city. Skiing is available in the wintertime, and during the summer over 26 miles (42 kilometres) of mountain biking trails are available.

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