Rebuilding Begins in Royal Gorge, Colo. Area
A staple of the Royal Gorge Bridge & Park near Canon City, Colo., was removed Friday (June 28) as cleanup of the tourist attraction got underway, the Canon City Daily Record reported.
Construction workers used a crane to remove the aerial tram's skeleton from the park. It was destroyed in the Royal Gorge Fire that started on June 11.
The fire burned 3,218 acres before being declared 100% contained June 17. The park was within the burn area and, while the bridge itself survived, 48 of the park's 52 buildings were destroyed.
The aerial tram was one of the world's longest single span aerial trams when it debuted at the park in 1969, sitting next to the visitor center, which was also destroyed in the fire.
"It was like putting an old friend to rest," said Public Relations Manager Peggy Gair. "Hundreds of thousands of guests have enjoyed the 2,200-foot ride across the Royal Gorge."
Alpine Cable and Construction of Grand Junction is in charge of the demolition and cleanup at the park. Officials hope to open the park with a "bridge-only" ticket by mid-to-late August.
The long-term goal is to rebuild the park and its attractions.
During a Downtown Merchants Meeting on Thursday, City Administrator Doug Dotson said city and park officials are working quickly to get a design firm lined up.
"Their goal is not to get the bridge open as soon as possible, but to come up with a design plan for building the park up there," he said. "The goal is to get this company lined up and get this going."
Contractors who have put in bids on the project are from Colorado with one from Cañon City.
Officials want design firms who specialize in natural attractions, such as the Royal Gorge, natural theme parks and national- and state-type parks.
A community meeting later will be conducted for input on the rebuilding of the park.
"They are working on trying to have some kind of a grand opening, probably next June," Dotson said."Hopefully by then, they'll have more things opened than just the bridge."