But Sun Valley boasts another first, even more important to skiers. A Union Pacific engineer named James Curran designed the first chairlift and installed it at the mountain resort. It is important to note that in this case, “Union Pacific engineer” does not imply a man who operated locomotives.
Curran had developed a conveyor system to load bananas onto ships. He used what he learned on that project to build the first ski lifts on Proctor and Dollar mountains. The photo shows the testing of an early prototype.
Averell Harriman deserves credit for the resort, but it’s Curran who gets credit for the first ski lift. James Curran was inducted into the National Ski Hall of Fame in 2001.