World’s Longest Tramway
Recently, during Living History Days at the Grand Encampment Museum (GEM) in Encampment, the old fashioned print shop, which I established and operate, put out a pamphlet which featured a new exhibit at the GEM. It was concerning dedication of a new diorama – see photo and information below – now on display at the entrance of the Doc Culleton building.
The four-page document pictured the diorama and related history of the “World’s longest tramway”, a story which we now share with Postcard from the Past readers.
A headline in the Saratoga Sun, published June 18, 1903, reads, “Ore Successfully Carried,” followed by a sub-head which states, “First Bucket of Ore Passes Over the Aerial Tramway of the North American Copper Co. on Tuesday of Last Week, (June 9, 1903).”
Thus, began operation of the world’s longest tramway at that time. The article in the weekly newspaper published at Saratoga continued.
The first bucket of ore was carried over the aerial tramway of the North American Copper Co., from the Ferris-Haggarty mine to the smelter at Encampment, a distance of 16 miles. It was the realization of the hopes of thousands of people and was observed as a day of rejoicing and speech making.
The tramway wires were started early in the forenoon and long before the bucket of ore arrived the towers in and around Encampment were covered with people waiting to catch the first glimpse of the bucket, and when it came, decorated with the stars and stripes, there was a race from one tower to another to get a piece of ore as a souvenir.
The crowd followed the bucket to the smelter and carried off about half of the ore brought down, to keep in remembrance of the occasion.
The tramway was in operation the first of the week, running with full buckets. There is a quantity of ore at the Rudefeha mine, which it is probable the company will run over to the smelter at once, and that plant is getting in operation as soon as sufficient ore is in the bins to keep it running for a time.
The building of the tramway and getting it in running order… to one of the most complete smelter plants in the west, 40 miles from the nearest railroad station, at the cost of an enormous sum of money, is a piece of work that the average citizen does not realize the extent of, until brought into actual contact with the reality.
In an accompanying article titled “Dimensions of Tramway,” the Saratoga Sun noted the structure was built between February 1902 and October 1902, cost $350,000 and had 293,275 feet of cable… But then, that’s another “Postcard from the Past.”