Justice visits Pipestem Resort State Park to talk tram system upgrade

PIPESTEM, WV (WOAY) Gov. Jim Justice (R-West Virginia) visited Pipestem Resort State Park to talk about replacing its aerial tram system, which is more than 60 years old.

The governor calls West Virginia the envy of the world now. The tram is a major attraction, so getting it back up and running is important. Due to its age, he says it’s time to upgrade.

“The tram’s going to be better. People are gonna be able to take your bikes or equipment and everything — go down and fish,” said Justice. “This absolutely will be a memory like Tourism Secretary (Chelsea) Ruby said, from thousands and thousands of people, once they come and everything, it’s an exciting day.”

According to Ruby, she first approached the governor about the trams at Pipestem and Hawk’s Nest being in complete disrepair and needing to be shut down because they were unsafe. But they didn’t have the money to replace them.

“He asked me if we’ve ever done anything halfway there. And I said ‘no.’ He said, ‘Well, then you’re replacing both trams, aren’t you?’ I said, ‘Yes, sir,’” Ruby said. “So we came out and I told everybody that we were replacing both trams and here we are a year and a half later with the first one. We’ve got the second one on the way.”

The governor doesn’t know the exact timeline of when the tram renovations will be done but said it’s probably a year away.

“Big money. I mean, I think it’s probably, you know, $12 plus million dollars — and so big money to do it and everything and pull it all off,” said Justice. “But what an unbelievable park and what an unbelievable economic boost to the area and everything; had to do it.”

The Pipestem Tram is not going to be a replacement for the old one.

“It’s gonna be the same type of product that’s gonna give people amazing family memories for 50 or more years, but it’s upgraded,” the tourism secretary said. “It is gonna be able to haul more people. There’s going to be equipment cars. So you can take your fishing gear, your kayaks, your bicycles, everything down. It is an incredible top-of-the-line West Virginia-engineered product that we should all be really, really proud of.”

The governor called the backdrop behind him unparalleled.

“Just look. But not only that, when you get to the bottom of this right here, there’s a trout stream down there that is world-class,” said Justice. “And that’s what West Virginia is all about. Just come and enjoy the unbelievable beauty of this state; it’ll touch your soul.”

Time after time visitation at these parks goes through the roof.

“We’ve seen revenue in these parks, we’ve seen tourism visitation. We’ve seen every single metric go up because of these investments,” Ruby said. “Also symbolic of everything that’s happened in West Virginia’s tourism industry, where we’ve seen West Virginia literally go from dead last to world-class, the park system with the most investments and the tourism state with the most growth.”

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