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Historic Cable Mountain Draw Works Stabilization Project Completed

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Date: January 13, 2011
Contact: Sarah Horton, 435-772-0214
Contact: David Eaker, 435-772-7811

Superintendent Jock Whitworth is pleased to announce the completion of a project to stabilize the historic Cable Mountain Draw Works in Zion National Park. The Cable Mountain Draw Works is an early 20th century aerial tramway that was used to move lumber and timber from the mesas of Cable Mountain to the floor of Zion Canyon. The structure was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.

The Draw Works was originally conceived and constructed by Springdale pioneer David Flanigan, who regarded the Draw Works as a fulfillment of an 1863 prophecy by Brigham Young that lumber would one day be transported from the canyon rim “as the hawk flies.” During operation of the Draw Works, from 1901 to 1927, the structure was used to move hundreds of thousands of board feet of lumber, goods, people occasionally, and a dog once, to the canyon floor 2,000 feet below.

The system Flanigan used was essentially that of a single rope tramway. Components included an upper or loading terminal at the canyon rim, outfitted with a breaking mechanism and a pair of towers on the canyon floor. A continuous wire cable ran between the terminal structures and gravity was used to lower loads to the canyon floor. Today, all that survives of the Draw Works system is the upper terminal; the towers on the canyon floor and the cable were removed within a few years of the end of operation.

Over the last 90 years, the Draw Works has been slowly deteriorating. The wooden beams making up the terminal on Cable Mountain have been exposed to the elements and have badly weathered. The stabilization project consisted of utilizing master carpenters to match and graft new wood to existing parts of the structure that are still firm. Park archeologists supervised the work and made sure that the Draw Works structure stayed in the position it has historically occupied. The National Park Service completed this stabilization project in collaboration with the University of New Mexico School of Planning and Architecture.

For those wishing to visit the Draw Works site, it is accessible via a strenuous 7.4 mile (one way) hike from the Weeping Rock Trailhead or a more moderate 9 mile (one way) hike from the East Rim Trailhead. Visitors are reminded that the structure is still delicate and should not be disturbed in any way.

Funding for the Cable Mountain Draw Works Stabilization Project came from the Vanishing Treasures program and Zion National Park visitor fees collected under the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA) of 2004. The project exemplifies how visitors to Zion are directly funding the maintenance and preservation of park resources. For more information on the Cable Mountain Draw Works, FLREA or other park projects, please visit the Zion National Park website at www.nps.gov/zion.

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