Is this the right time for a tram?

Who Am I?

As Project Manager for Tauhindauli Park and Trail in 2000, Cheryl Petty wrote all grants and obtained $780,000 from public, foundation and private sources.  Her responsibilities included monthly and quarterly reporting to the California Department of Fish and Game Cantara Project.  She also prepared all budgets, coordinated and supervised all consultants and contractors, wrote and negotiated all agreements, conducted fundraising and community support activities.  

Fifteen years later, She is heading up an effort to conduct a feasibility study for the Horsetail Falls Aerial Tram project up to the top of Mt Bradley, California, in Siskiyou County. 

The name was suggested by an old timer who said Horsetail Falls is an ephemeral waterfall that runs during heavy rain. 

Arne Hultgren, Roseburg Forest Products, and Jason Zakotnik, Above and Beyond, on trip to the top in May 2015.  Jason provided valuable information about current tram operations in the US.

This idea was first presented by me to Dunsmuir counci ten years ago.  This year Petty brings this idea out again.  Dunsmuir's council is different and times have changed post-recession.  Dunsmuir is no longer the railroad town it used to be.  Now it's tourism which brings in the most dollars and hires the most people.


View north to Mt Shasta.

Education:  UCLA BA 1982


Roseburg Forest Products has been a supporter of the tram from the beginning.  This is important since the proposed project is mainly on their land.  The City of Dunsmuir council is 100% behind the project.  


The bottom of the tram, or start, has three possible locations which will be compared in the feasibility study.  One is the Little League Field at the SW corner of the 800-foot bridge on Dunsmuir Avenue.  An alternate site is north of the city park and another on the east side of I-5. 

The top of the tram is near the lookout on Mt. Bradley on Roseburg property.  Here the tram connects the important natural resource feature the Pacific Crest Trail with Tauhindauli Park in Dunsmuir, a park designed around natural resource conservation.  Interstate 5 passes within meters of the proposed start locations, providing a steady stream of potential visitors.


Eco Tourism

The project is described in relationship to other tourism resources in our region.  At this time let's say the framework is Eco Tourism: “Responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people.”  The sports include fly fishing, kayaking, hiking, mountain biking, cross-country skiing, rock climbing and wildlife viewing. 

Within the area bounded by the PCT, Sacramento River and Mt Shasta are myriad recreational opportunities that can be viewed as part of an integral and synergistic region.  Additional to the entrepreneurial resources here, the tram will hire people and draw on the same general geographical area, not just Dunsmuir.

Rosy Siskiyou Sedum, Sedum laxus, pink to rosy flowers on stems which radiate from the center of a basal cluster of square tipped bronze leaves.

The functionality of a lift up to the level of the PCT and connecting with the Castle Lake and Castle Crags trail system and connecting with the Mossbrae Trail in Tauhindauli Park creates a hub for attracting visitors off I-5 which runs right past the entrance to the proposed tram.

Ø  Thousands of cars pass the proposed tram on I-5, providing an endless supply of prospective users. 

Ø  Cross-country skiers and hikers will be able to access high country previously difficult to impossible to reach and provide access for PCT travelers. 

Ø  Handicapped people and families will enjoy the sights at the top. 


Ø  Job creation is expected in the tram construction, operation and in the related tourism businesses. 


                A complete market demand and financial feasibility study is needed to provide demand estimates for the proposed tram and to calculate multiple revenue scenarios.  Engineering and construction cost estimates are needed to determine operating/variable costs and to estimate the financial viability of the Horsetail Falls Aerial Tram project.  These investigations inform other key decisions like the type of passenger cars needed which impact costs and other factors. 

                Besides the financial viability of the project, determining how it will affect the region’s economic situation, impact our target PTA activity, connect local recreation resources and serve the tourist.   

                The feasibility study provides guidance for decision making, ensuring best outcome for invested resources.


Tram Comparison

View West toward Scott Camp Ridge Notable Features: Castle Lake, Gray Rocks, Gray Rocks Lakes, Scott Lake, Heart Lake, Pacific Crest Trail

Four trams in the western US with similar purposes will be identified and compared to the proposed Dunsmuir tram from a socio-economic standpoint.  Third party business databases such as Reference USA and Dunn and Bradstreet will be used to compare estimated financials.  The four tram operators will be interviewed to gain as much insight into their current demand as possible.

Inventory, Technical Assessment

Phase 1

Utilizing USGS Topographic Mapping, a technical analysis of the valley terrain surrounding the potential bottom and top stations will be conducted to establish land available for the lift terminals, parking and staging areas, guest service facilities, etc., including evaluation of physical limiting parameters such as land ownership or set-back from radio and communication towers located on Mount Bradley.

Preliminary Concept

Phase 2

A conceptual development plan for the facility will be prepared based on the technical assessment results.  The concept plan will evaluate the different aerial cableway equipment options currently available and determine the most effective option.  The concepts will identify the location and type of supporting services at the base and mountain top such as food and beverage, souvenirs and other recreational activities with respect to capital costs, operating costs and financial contribution.


Back side of Castle Crags, Dome, looking south.


Order of Magnitude and Capital Budget / Fixed and Operational Cost Estimates

An Order of Magnitude capital budget for the proposed concept will be prepared.  A ten-year pro forma income statement utilizing conservative and optimistic guest visitation scenarios will be prepared.  Industry ratios and standards for ticket pricing and lift operations expenses will be applied.  Revenue per caps for supporting departments such as food and beverage, retail and souvenirs, and other revenue sources found at similar types of sightseeing facilities will be utilized.

Visitation Estimate / Demand Estimates

Utilizing traffic volumes on I-5, visitation levels will be estimated and recommended as an “optimum capacity” for the aerial cableway system given the land available for parking, staging and guest services. 

In terms of users per month a range will be created as a demand estimate (low, mid, high).  These estimates will be made based on past performance of similar trams such as the Palm Springs Arial Trams with adjustments for traffic flow and seasonal changes in tourism.

Pro Forma Income Statement / Revenue Estimates

Demand estimates (from above) will be extrapolated using different business models.

Complete Financial Analysis (NPV)

Data will be dropped into a proven financial model to show the net present value (NPV) of the project based on revenue estimates, variable costs, and amortized fixed costs.  The NPV will show the true value, discounted, over the useful life of the project.

Site Inspection, presentation

Cemented at the summit is a Geodetic marker, part of the US National Geodetic Survey.  

Results will be presented in a written document with professional recommendations by experienced planners.  The report will document findings and present a preliminary development concept for the sightseeing facility. 

Economic Impact Analysis

This will outline expected business revenue (output), employment growth, and increased tax benefit in a multiple year “construction phase” impact and the impact of a “Nth” year of operating expenses.  The impacts will include direct benefits of spending on the project and include indirect and induced spending generated from multipliers of business to business spending and spending by employees and construction workers in Siskiyou County.

Public Meetings

Four public meetings will be conducted in the Eco Tourism Region bounded by the Pacific Crest Trail to the west, McCloud to the east, county line to the south and Weed/Mt Shasta to the north.  Meetings are designed to answer questions about the proposed tram and to survey the Eco Tourism Region for recreational resources organizations and entrepreneurs interested in connecting with the tram and the Eco Tourism concept.