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May 29, 2010

Von Roll Sky Rides

Post by admin

The Von Roll Company of Switzerland's nameplate. Image by vonrollskyway1.

Von Roll Seilbahn was a prolific Swiss builder of ropeway systems in the 20th century. While Von Roll itself lives on as a supplier of industrial and electrical components, the ropeway division was acquired by Doppelmayr of Austria in 1994.

One of the most charming and endearing legacies of Von Roll was their line of Skyways, installed in amusement parks throughout North America. They are a bizarre relic of the cable industry’s time catering almost exclusively to the resort and theme park markets; a time which, thankfully, has passed. As most were installed in the late 50’s and 60’s, few still exist.

While you can’t really classify the Von Roll Skyways as Cable Propelled Transit systems, it’s worth considering both the lifespan of the systems (some were in operation for over 35 years) as well as their almost perfectly horizontal alignments and low-profiles.

You wouldn’t want to take one to work though.

The Disneyland Skyway. Image by ATIS547.

The Bronx Zoo Skyfari. Image by John Morton.

Pleasure Beach Skyway, Blackpool England. Image by JohnBurke.

The Cedar Point Skyway. Image by ctk.

The San Diego Zoo Skyfari. Image by modenadude.



  • August says:

    Hi, does anyone know what is the model of the BDG that Von Roll built for the Madrid Teleferico (commenced 1967, completed 1969)? Apparently a similar one was built in Singapore (completed 1974) – similar structures down to the cabins. The Singapore cabins were decommissioned in 1994, but the BDG system remained until 2009 when Doppelmayr was commissioned to do an overhaul and it became a MDG. I’m quite curious because these are probably two unique systems in the world. The interesting thing is: the cabins halt during their rounds inside the stations, but unlike the Von Roll Type 101s which are manually pulled along by station staff, they are tractored by electric motors running on a track above the bogey (look for a video taken inside the station of the Madrid Teleferico and you’ll get a better idea). Thanks!

  • Somebody might be interested in the old home-movies I just posted on YouTube of a Von Roll Type 101 Skyride that once was installed at Panama City, Florida. The ride was destroyed by a hurricane, in the late 70s I believe. They aren’t much, only about a minute of on-ride film showing the towers and stations as well as the view, but this particular installation isn’t otherwise well documented.

  • Chris Monk says:

    I just bought car #13 that was the next in line to fall at the state Fare of Texas in the late 70’s. looking for more information about the car and what it’s warth $$, it was bought by a friend that work there at the time and it’s been in a barn from that day.

  • Steven Dale says:


    My guess is that it’s not worth much except to collectors such as yourself. If you can give us some more information, we might be able to find out more.

  • Kevin Reid says:

    Hi everyone, greetings from Ireland.
    Can anyone tell me if the Swiss Van Roll company built the cable car system on Dursey Island in western Ireland in 1969?
    Thanks in advance.

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