I have to say, I love birthdays! With my Daily Doodle book it's even more fun when someone has a birthday because I get to think about the person and decide what comes to mind when I think of them. Today, we're covering the first ski chair lift.
Now, you should know, chair lifts weren't the first way for skiers to get up the mountain. In 1908 the first mechanical ski tow was built by Rober Winkelhalder at his hotel in Germany. It was powered by a water mill. In 1932 North America's first rope tow was invented by Alex Foster. It was powered by a Dodge jacked up on blocks with a rope around the wheel rim! And then came the chair lift...
The Union Pacific Railroad chairman at the time knew American's were becoming more interested in winter sports and also knew the UP railroad went through some beautiful, scenic, mountainous areas, so he decided to build a resort in Sun Valley, Idaho. The property was selected in 1935 and construction started in 1936. A team in Omaha, Nebraska was tasked with figuring out how to get people up the mountain.
The lead engineer, Jim Curran, was inspired by a system from Central America used to transport bananas onto boats. He replaced the banana hooks with chairs and started product testing. If you think about it, you may go, "wait, how did they test out a chair lift in Omaha, Nebraska? There aren't mountains there!" and you'd be right, they tested the system using roller skates to figure out how fast the chair lift should go. Charlie Proctor, a famous skier from Dartmouth College, was even brought in to see the plans and prototypes that were built.
The resort opened in December of 1936 with the world's first two chair lifts, and changed the sport forever, for the better. To be honest, I'm still confused how there were two winter olympics and several national and international ski competitions before there were chairlifts... but maybe I'm just lazy and can't imagine hiking some mountain to then ski back down... How about you?