On This Day: December 27, 1939

Cranmore Mountain Resort celebrated the opening of a unique ski lift – a major mechanical marvel, that on this day, introduced the ski world to a new form of uphill transportation.

On this day, a novel ski lift – like no other any US ski resort has since seen – premiered at Cranmore Mountain Resort: the Skimobile, invented by a Mount Washington Valley mechanic, George Morton, at the request of Cranmore’s founder Harvey Dow Gibson, who was looking for a faster way to transport skiers up the hill. In the era of slow-moving rope tows, what made this lift so unique was that the Skimobile took its cues from the cable cars of San Francisco and featured 200 multi-colored cars that were pulled by a cable up the mountain on a wooden track. That’s right, in order to ride the lift, skiers actually clicked out of their bindings and placed their skis next to them in the car (it’s believed that Morton disliked the way his feet would dangle on a typical chairlift). Then hailed as a revolutionary device that would change skiing forever, the Skimobile carried a total of 255 skiers per hour – an impressive rate for the 1940s.

But by the late 1980s, skiers were, yet again, looking for faster, more efficient ways to reach the summit, which led to the replacement of the Skimobile in spring of 1990 with a high-speed chairlift. As a result, many cars were donated to businesses and organizations around town. In fact, you can still see several around the valley, one marking the entrance of the New England Ski Museum in North Conway; and a shiny refurbished one at Delaney’s Hole in the Wall, also in North Conway.