The Historic Foundation of the Mammoth Aerial Tramway

The Mammoth aerial tramway was sometimes referred to as an “aerial ropeway” which was built in 1905 for the United States Refining and Mining Company, the parent company of the Mammoth Copper Company of Kennett, by the Riblet Tramway Company of Spokane, Washington, for about $50,000.

SEE: Exploring Shasta County History with Jeremy Tuggle:

Bella Vista: A lumber town

Legendary Mining Lore: Gold Nuggets of History

Simeon Fisher Southern and the Hazel Creek area

Exploring the rich history of McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park

Cottonwood’s origins, from small 1850s townsite to 1890s growing RR hub

Kimball Plains: Exploring the history of a former western Shasta County settlement

That year, the Mammoth Copper Company began large scale mining operations at the Mammoth mine when their brand-new smelter was blown-in during October of 1905, which was located on Little Backbone Creek and in the boundaries of the Backbone mining district. This aerial tramway system began operations in the fall of 1906.

The Mammoth aerial tramway is shown above conveying ore in large buckets and transporting timber as well. This picture is from the Sacramento Daily Union newspaper edition of December 11, 1906.

In an excerpt of an article the following was published by the Sacramento Daily Union newspaper claiming that it was “…used for the transportation of copper ore from the mine for treatment in the smelter. It is however, used for a double purpose and freight and lumber is shipped by this means to the mine. The tramway is operated by gravity, the weight of the heavy copper ore causing the endless rope to travel around the large shelve wheels and furnish power enough to carry thousands of pounds of freight up the heavy incline. The ore is loaded into the buckets by automatic feeders and dumped direct into the large bins on the furnace floor at smelter. “ (SIC)

The Mammoth aerial tramway was two miles long. Some reports say it was longer, but that was false information. The Mammoth mine and smelter closed in 1919, and the smelter reopened for a short time in 1924. The Mammoth mine last operated in 1937. Today, only one concrete slab of foundation from this historic aerial tramway remains viewable off of Westside Road Number 2 behind Shasta Dam.

The Mammoth aerial tramway of the Mammoth Copper Company, circa 1919. Conveying ore 3,000 feet below the Mammoth mine to the Mammoth smelter. Courtesy of Shasta Historical Society.

Filmed on location April 21, 2021.


  • Tram Now Handles Fifty Tons An Hour – The Free Press newspaper of Redding, February 22, 1906
  • Cable Two Miles Long Used To Transport Copper Ore – The Sacramento Daily Union of Sacramento, June 16, 1906
  • Mammoth Smelter At Kennett Running To Its Fullest Capacity – The Sacramento Daily Union newspaper of Sacramento, December 11, 1906
  • Store Ore In Shasta – The Sacramento Daily Union of Sacramento, September 13, 1910
  • The Covered Wagon 1977, published annually by Shasta Historical Society
  • Kennett by Jane Schuldberg, published by Stansbury Publishing of Chico, California; 1st edition (April 1, 2005) 224 pages ISBN-10 : 0970892292

Meet the writer: Jeremy M. Tuggle
Education and Community Engagement Manager – Shasta Historical Society

Jeremy M. Tuggle, born in Redding, is a descendant of 11 pioneer families who settled Shasta County between 1849-1889. Jeremy attended Shasta College and is the author of two published books, Rooted in Shasta County (2003), and A Journey Through Time: Ono and the Bald Hills (2008), as well as various articles on local history.

In 2017 Mr. Tuggle was awarded a Community Service Award, a prestigious national award for community service in historic preservation, by the Major Pierson B. Reading Chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Jeremy is a member of the General Society of Mayflower Descendants in the State of California, and an Eagle Scout.

Tuggle has been employed at the Shasta Historical Society since November of 2009.   In his present role as Education & Community Engagement Manager, Jeremy conducts research for the historical society’s programs and events, contributes to the Society’s social media presence, and ensures the highest quality guest and patron experience at our programs and community events.

Mr. Tuggle enjoys sharing his knowledge of local history and events, and is available to community organizations to present programs about Shasta County history.  

Contact the editor: [email protected]

Trevor Montgomery, 49, moved in 2017 to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source (RCNS) and Shasta County News Source (SCNS).

Additionally, he writes or has written for several other news organizations; including Riverside County-based newspapers Valley News, Valley Chronicle, Anza Valley Outlook, and Hemet & San Jacinto Chronicle; the Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County; and Mountain Echo in Shasta County. He is also a regular contributor to Thin Blue Line TV and Law Enforcement News Network and has had his stories featured on news stations throughout the Southern California and North State regions.

Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back, and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)

During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations; including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center, and Lake Elsinore Station; along with other locations.

Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team, and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.

Trevor has been married for more than 30 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and his “fluid family” includes 13 children and 18 grandchildren.