"It was used to get people out of the valley quickly as well as get emergency equipment down into the valley to help people and rescue people," CAMTRAN Director Rose Lucey-Noll said.
The first cars were
double deckers; people went on the bottom while their horses and wagons rode up
top. Those cars were replaced in 1926 by
the ones still running today. At the
time it was bragged they could carry three Model T’s at once. The first motor was a steam engine, but that
too was replaced in the early 1900's with an electric motor. Over the years the incline ran 24 hours a
day, carrying people from work in the mills to the growing hilltop community.
As the mills closed,
commuter ridership slowed. The inclined
plane changed hands several times before the county transit authority took
ownership in 1983. Now it's one of the biggest
tourist attractions in town.
"We have over 100,000 riders a year who come here to ride the incline. We have a lot more even who just visit the visitor's center at the top. We have a restaurant, the city view bar and grill, as well as the observation deck that gives you a fantastic view of the valley below," Lucey-Noll said.
With higher gas prices many people are once again turning to the incline for transportation. This summer, hours have been adding during the morning commute, and ridership has increased.