THE TRAM CABLES ARE SUPPORTED BY ONLY TWO TOWERS BETWEEN THE TERMINALS.
Tower one, located at an elevation of 7,010 feet, is 232 feet tall. Tower one leans at an 18 degree angle to evenly support the cables between the lower terminal and tower two. As a result, the top of tower one is offset more than 70 feet out from the center of the tower base. Several 40 foot deep stressed steel rod anchors hold the towers in place.
Tower two, located at a breathtaking 8,750 feet, is 80 feet tall. Helicopters were used to construct this tower as the terrain was too difficult to build a construction road to ascend the rocky face to the required tower location. Tower two took 2,000 of the 5,000 helicopter rides required to build the tram. Holes were drilled and steel rods were anchored in the granite (many at 40 feet deep) to anchor each of the footings for the towers and terminals of the tram. Keeping the towers in alignment was of major concern and importance.
THE CABLES & CARS
Sandia Peak Tramway is 2.7 miles in diagonal length and is a bi-cable double reversible aerial passenger tramway. Both tramcars are attached to the hauling cables and the weight of the downhill tramcar helps to pull the uphill tramcar to the top. When the tramcars pass at midway, they are almost 1,000 feet above the ground. The typical speed of the tramway is 20 ft/sec. or 13.6 MPH. The main drive is a 600 horsepower dc electric winch motor. In case of a power failure, the tramcars can be returned to the terminals with an auxiliary Ford industrial engine.
Each of the four 100,000 pound track cables is stronger than required to support one car, and, as an added safety precaution, each car travels over two such cables. The original track cables were replaced in the spring of 1997, during a seven week project with the help of Swiss cable experts. The tramcars were designed with track cable brakes. These brakes would close automatically and hold the car firmly in place in an emergency or haul cable failure. The brakes on the main drive are electronically/hydraulically opened before the tramcars can move. If the power should fail, the brakes are applied automatically, stopping the moving cables and tram cars.
- Construction took 24 months, followed by 60 days of strenuous testing
- Each tramcar is capable of carrying 50 passengers or 10,000 pounds up the mountain at a maximum rate of 200 passengers per hour
- The tram makes 10,500 trips per year, on average.
- The first riders up Sandia Peak ascended on May 7, 1966.
- Over 11 million passengers have taken the Sandia Peak Tram ride.