GATLINBURG (WATE) – The Gatlinburg Sky Lift is one of the city’s most popular tourist attraction.
The lift’s upper section and upper terminal were significantly damaged during the Gatlinburg fires on November 28, but now the lift it is getting a new life as crews start to rebuild. Randy Watson, the General Manager at Gatlinburg Sky Lift said they hope to open a new and improved sky lift at the end of April.
“We’re going from a double chair lift to a triple chair and also the actual structures are bigger and better,” said Watson. “The lift’s designer is the world’s largest lift chair manufacturer in the world.”
The cost to rebuild the lift will cost Boyne Resorts, the owners of the attraction, hundreds of thousands of dollars to rebuild, according to Watson. He said they have also lost thousands of dollars in sales while the lift has been out of commission.
“At the hill top where we had our structures it was over 1,000 degrees heat and that pretty much wiped out our upper terminal,” Watson said.
Watson and about two dozen others began work on replacing the attraction, even using helicopters to remove portions of the lift and fly in concrete. He said he believes the rebuilding serves as a symbol that Gatlinburg’s best days are ahead.
“It’s just a good sign of things getting back to normal again,” Watson said. “We’re going to be victors instead of victims through all of this.”