Colorado’s Oldest Chairlift Set to Be Retired After 70 Years

Luke Guilford | | Industry NewsIndustry News
Segundo Chairlift
Segundo Chairlift. Photo Credit: LiftBlog

Colorado’s oldest operating chairlift started spinning almost 70 years ago at Aspen Mountain. The historic double chair, center pole was engineered by lift designer Robert Heron. Serving as Lift 3 at Aspen from 1954 until 1969, the lift was then sold to Sunlight Mountain Resort where it went into service in 1973.

Sitting near Glenwood Springs, CO, Sunlight Mountain Resort happily brought in the chairlift and blessed the lift with the name “Segundo,” meaning “second” in Spanish. Segundo was the second lift at Sunlight Mountain and is currently one of three lifts. In a report from The Denver Post, Assistant General Manager Ross Terry said this.

“It’s a very safe machine, I just think it’s time that it gets retired… A lot of that is public perception. They get on this old stuff, some people don’t like it. They don’t feel as secure on it. And no matter how good you maintain a machine, it’s not going to run forever. I’d rather replace it before it retires itself.”

Trailing off what Terry said to the Denver Post, Segundo’s safety isn’t an issue. Like all other lifts, Segundo is inspected by tramway officials twice a year. 

“They do an annual pre-operational inspection that is really geared toward the mechanical and maintenance aspects of the lifts,” Terry said, “They look at the machinery and your maintenance records. They go through it with a fine-toothed comb. Then they have an annual unannounced inspection that happens during the season, while you are open and the lifts are operating. They’re really looking at operator training, operation procedures, and they look at paperwork (documenting) the day-to-day operational aspects of the lifts.”

Segundo's bullwheel
Segundo’s old-school bull wheel. Photo Credit: LiftBlog

Robert Heron, the designer of the lift, understands durability. Heron started his career designing tramways for mining operations in 1937. He even designed a portable tramway that was used in the assault of Riva Ridge in Italy during World War II. After the war, Heron established Heron Engineering Company, where he was involved in the design of 120 chairlifts.

Segundo is set to be decommissioned in April of 2024, 70 years since it was first installed at Aspen. Replacing the legendary chairlift will be the former Lenawee Lift from Arapahoe Basin Ski Area. The Lenawee Lift was a fixed-grip triple chair built in 2001 at Arapahoe Basin Ski Area. Workers will begin pouring concrete foundations for the new lift this summer, and the construction of the lift is expected to be completed by the Summer of 2024.

When Segundo is removed, most of the parts will be scrapped. Structural steel will be recycled, and it’s likely the 140 chairs will be auctioned off. Terry left the interview with the Denver Post saying this about Segundo.

“It’s been a great lift,” Terry said. “You can keep it running indefinitely, but you reach a point where it costs you more in maintenance than it would to go to a new lift. The parts are all obsolete. You can’t buy parts, you have to fabricate them or have them made by an engineering firm.”

Lenawee Lift
The Lenawee Mountain Lift will be replacing Segundo. Photo Credit: LiftBlog

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4 thoughts on “Colorado’s Oldest Chairlift Set to Be Retired After 70 Years

  1. The Sheer Bliss lift at Snowmass had an accident about 20 years ago while people were riding it.
    Bolts to a tower sheered off at the base of a tower. The pole fell straight down the lift line causing people to be slowly lowered to the ground. No one was hurt ! Old lift then quickly replaced for next season. Must have scared the cr*p out of management however !

  2. A lift of similar vintage at Mad River Glen but a single chair was refurbished a few years ago and is still in use ! MRG ski it if you can !

  3. Winter Park Ski Resort’s Looking Glass lift looks exactly the same. I believe it’s been in operation since the 60’s.

  4. I believe I rode in this lift at Aspen in 1956. Up until then, all lifts at Aspen were single chairs. This one was new, in Spar Gulch.

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