File Fact: September 12, 1876, James Carpenter and Thomas Lowthian located the Pandora Mine two miles out of town.


From The Telluride Times, Sept. 1, 1977

1st Lead to end local manufacturing

[This article is dedicated to those who remember.]

1st Lead Mountaineering, Telluride’s oldest and most established cottage industry, is closing down its sweatshop and moving its manufacturing operations out of town. 1st Lead products — parkas, wind pants, gaiters and packs — will be warehoused and sold out of Telluride, but production will be contracted out, according to President Gary Petry.

Petry said out-of-town manufacturers would be more reliable. The company, Petry said, has hired 14 women to train as sewers since last November and ended up with five steady seamstresses, at a training cost of about $1,000 per woman.

The “transitory effect” of the Telluride community, Petry maintained, made it impossible to keep a steady, reliable production crew.

1st Lead’s five seamstresses — Anne Mummert, Mickey Waddell, Jeanne Buck, Ann McCarthy and Betsy Hodges — all of whom have worked for the company for nine months, will be laid off in about three weeks. None of the women have immediate job prospects.

1st Lead was born in 1971 as the manufacturing unit for the now-defunct Winterlude sporting goods shop. Telluride resident Fred Libby started the business with Danny Smith. Jerry Race, Sunshine pharmacist and cross-country ski racer, entered the outfit the next year.


From the Telluride Times-Journal, Sept. 18-24, 1997

Ride a tram bucket into Telluride’s past at tower installment at Gondola

Bill “Senior” Mahoney, who will be inducted into the Colorado Ski Hall of Fame next month (Oct. 24, 1997), and who helped turn our mountain into a winter wonderland of runs and the ever-important ski lifts, shared his historical perspective with a Telluride Historical Museum exhibit.

Mahoney didn’t just help build ski lifts. As a former mine worker, he labored on tram lines that carried ore, miners and supplies. Mahoney worked on the Pennsylvania Tram Line for seven years. He and museum workers will look at two towers, Nos. Two and Three, that supported the old line. In an effort that will help tie the cables between Telluride’s historic economy, mining, and its present economy, tourism, the museum plans to move those two towers from the Pennsylvania Tram Line to Station Telluride, the Gondola’s terminal at the south end of Oak Street.

More than 40 trams operated in the Telluride region during the mining years, Mahoney recalled. Although he’s not certain when the Pennsylvania Tram was built, he remembers it closed in 1952.

The tram ran from the valley east of Telluride, where the old Idarado Mining Co. mill is located, up the mountain almost one mile to the Pennsylvania Mine. Later, a tunnel was bored from “mill level” on the valley, into the mountain about 11,000 feet horizontally, then up about 1,200 feet to the Pennsylvania Mine. Before that tunnel’s construction, the tram ran from the mine down to the mill. The tram’s loop of cable was about 10,000 feet long.

The tram normally ran six days a week, and about 600 buckets ran on the line every eight hours, Mahoney said. Those buckets each carried three-quarters of a ton of ore. They also carried timbers and lugged metal rails that were 32 feet long and weighed 45 pounds per linear foot. The cables that supported that weight were huge, recalled Mahoney, who worked as a bucket loader in 1943 when he was 15 years old.

A tram-line shift included two loaders, a brakeman, a dumper and a gripper. When the tram buckets reached the end of the line, they were detached from the line and onto a rail system. While detached, the buckets could be dumped or loaded. Then the gripper reattached the buckets and sent them up or down the line.

It’s interesting to think “detachable” ski-resort chair lifts are a fairly recent, technological “breakthrough” in the ski industry that came only after ski areas operated for years with fixed-grip lifts. Detachable lifts allow a chair to be separated from a cable. This allows ski-lift cables to carry skies up the mountains much faster than fixed-grip lifts can operate.

Senior lived in Telluride through the demise of mining outfits, namely the Idarado Mining Co. and the rise of tourism, namely the Telluride Co. which became the Telluride Ski & Golf Co. Watching the Gondola carry people from Telluride to the top of Coonskin Ridge, then down into the town of Mountain Village, could bring history and the modern day into perspective for Mahoney, who described the old trams as people movers.

Sometimes, people rode the Pennsylvania Tram Line up the mountain in winter and skied back to town along Tomboy Road, Mahoney said. He describes the tram as the first “ski lift” he ever rode.

Hopefully, the museum’s exhibit will bring the past and present into perspective for both locals and tourists.

One of the wooden structures is 22 feet tall, and the other is 16 feet tall. These two towers stood side-by-side on the old Pennsylvania Tram Line.

Bobbie can be contacted at Comments are welcome.