Thursday, 03 August 2017 20:03

When It's Hot in the Desert, Head for the Hills!

Written by Jeff Shotwell
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Palm Springs Aerial Tram Palm Springs Aerial Tram wikipedia.com

Feeling the heat a bit too much on some sunny California days? You're not alone; in fact, you're historically in tune with Francis Crocker, whose "folly" can give you one of the coolest Palm Springs experiences.

Back in 1935, electrical engineer Francis Crocker thought the snow-capped Mount San Jacinto peak looked pretty inviting in comparison to the midday heat of the desert. At an elevation of 10,834 feet and the highest point of the San Jacinto Mountains, his desire to "go up there where it's nice and cool" began germinating into his plans for a tramway running up the steep Chino Canyon cliffs.

At the time, the idea seemed almost unattainable to some, to the point that a newspaper woman nicknamed his project "Crocker's Folly". But Crocker would not be dissuaded - he secured the help of Palm Springs Desert Inn's co-manager O. Earl Coffman, a visionary pioneer himself. While the locals were quite enthusiastic about Crocker's plan for a tramway, there were a number of politically-caused setbacks. First Governor Culvert Olsen vetoed two tramway bills that had been passed by the California State Legislature, then the start of World War II put the entire project on hold.

However, the dream never died. In 1945 a new tramway bill was passed, and Governor Earl Warren also established the Mount San Jacinto Winter Park Authority, to be headed by Coffman, with Crocker serving as secretary. Designs started to become reality in 1950, and after solving many engineering riddles and yet another postponement due to the Korean War, the $8.15 million project - funded solely through private revenue bonds and not taxpayer dollars - took shape starting in 1961. Because of the unique techniques used to solve the enormous engineering challenge of the project, it was dubbed the "Eighth Wonder of the World". The project was completed in 1963 and the bonds were finally paid off in 1996.

Today you can follow in the footsteps of over 20 million people and enjoy a completely modernized ride in the world's largest rotating tramcars, offering magnificent 360-degree views. You'll travel for 10 minutes up the breathtaking 2.5 mile climb from the Valley Station's 2,643 ft. elevation to the Mountain Station at 8,516 ft., where you'll discover a whole new world to explore. 

There are so many things you can do once you reach the top: the pristine wilderness offers hiking trails, camping, and winter adventures; you can also enjoy restaurants with scenic views, a natural history museum, observation decks, two documentary theaters and more. Temperatures at the peak are generally about 30 degrees cooler than at the valley floor, so bring a light jacket - and don't forget your camera!

WHERE TO STAY?

ModMansions offers the best Palm Springs Rentals available and all of our properties have been remodeled for today's traveler. Check out our Palm Springs vacation homes and Palm Springs luxury vacation rentals and give us a call to book your incredible Palm Springs getaway today (760) 209-4311

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