The Ober Gatlinburg Aerial Tramway, one of the most recognizable attractions in Gatlinburg, celebrates its 45th anniversary this year.
For four-and-a-half decades the wheels have turned and cables have pulled visitors up and down the mountain for a 10-minute, 2.1-mile ride offering sweeping views.
“Every ride on the tram is different, even if you ride it a couple times in an hour. The clouds move over. The light changes and hits the mountains in a different way, and so basically it provides a different experience every time you ride it,” said Kate Barido with Ober Gatlinburg.
The tram is a staple in Gatlinburg, but perhaps more unique than many realize. It is one of just 17 running trams in the country.
“I don’t think people really realize how rare it is to have an aerial tramway right in your backyard,” Barido said.
The tram began running on August 5, 1973. Now a new display of old photos on a wall of the tram stop showcases its long history.
“Basically it highlights the ski area when it was first being built, and then fast forwards to the early ’70s when we started building the tram,” Barido said.
Visitors can take in photos from the very beginning to modern maintenance and everything in between.
“They built the tram cars over in Switzerland and actually brought them here and installed them while they were here,” Barido said, pointing to a 2007 photo.
At the same time visitors can get a look at the inner workings of the tram system.
“You can look inside the tram machine room and actually see it in action,” Barido said.
The project aiming to give new life to a piece of Gatlinburg’s history that is still going strong.
“I mean it’s just an extreme experience for people, and to see it documented through time is really a gem,” Barido said.