West Virginia State Parks Upgrades Continue as State Officials Check Out $12.4M Pipestem Tram Project

By Connect-Bridgeport Staff on May 14, 2024 via

Gov. Jim Justice visited Pipestem Resort State Park this week to see the progress on the new aerial tram project. The aerial tram has been a fixture in southern West Virginia since 1970, and more than a hundred people joined Gov. Justice in touring the project site Tuesday, May 13.
The tram replacement project is part of $200+ million in state park improvements made under Gov. Justice's leadership.
“When I heard the old tram was in disrepair, I didn’t think twice about replacing it. This tramway has been an iconic spot in West Virginia for many, many years. It’s a place where hundreds of thousands of folks have created memories over the last 50 years, and I’m just thrilled that we’ve found a way to bring it back better than ever before,” said Gov. Justice. “I’ve ridden it down into the gorge to fish more times than I can remember, and I plan to be among the first to ride it down again this fall.”
Opening this fall, the new tram will transport guests down the same iconic path into the Bluestone Gorge. It descends 3,410 feet, an elevation difference of 1,200 feet. The new pulse gondola system allows for more efficiency and greater capacity within each cabin, as well as a freight car to transport bicycles, kayaks and other sporting equipment down to the Bluestone River and Mountain Creek Lodge. The system is also fully accessible.  
The $12.4 million tram replacement project is just a portion of the more than $200+ million in investments made in West Virginia State Parks over the last seven years.
“It’s been absolutely incredible to watch as our parks system has seen a complete transformation over the past seven years. We can never thank Governor Justice enough for his commitment to making our state park system the very best in the country,” said West Virginia Tourism Secretary Chelsea Ruby. 
Those investments have been made across the state at its 36 parks, nine forests and three rail trails. The projects include creating two new state parks, Cacapon Resort State Park’s new lodge, renovations at every lodge and cabin in the system, hundreds of new campsites built or upgraded, new recreational facilities and much-needed infrastructure upgrades systemwide.  
Those investments are paying major dividends. Visitation has increased, and revenue has grown substantially, allowing for reinvestment in West Virginia’s public lands. 
"I'm thrilled to witness the enhanced experience that the new tram will bring to our guests, ensuring their satisfaction for years to come,” said DNR Director Brett McMillion. “This project exemplifies exactly what our state parks are all about, creating opportunities for people to make lifelong memories and enjoy new experiences in our beautiful state.” 
“This is a great example of how we are investing in the infrastructure and assets of our parks that increase the visitor experience,” said Secretary of Commerce James Bailey. 
History of Pipestem Aerial Tram
The original Pipestem aerial tram opened in April 1971, nearly a year after Pipestem State Park's official opening on Memorial Day of 1970. The old tram served the park and many visitors for over 50 years.
The old tram operated 12 cabins with a capacity of four persons per cabin. The previous system would not operate if winds rose above 24 mph. The new tram, with several safety applications built into the system, permits safe operation through winds reaching up to 54 mph.
Editor's Note: Top and third photos show ongoing work on the tram at Pipestem. In the second photo West Virginia Tourism Secretary Chelsea Ruby talks to those gathered, while Gov. Jim Justice addresses the crowd as Babydog watches.

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