Ghost Town fails inspection

By Jessi Stone Assistant editor | Jun 04, 2013
Photo by: Jessi Stone Inspectors examine the chairlift at Ghost Town in the Sky on Thursday.

Ghost Town in the Sky failed its state inspection Friday and was unable to operate its rides during the weekend.

The North Carolina Department of Labor sent out inspectors with the Elevator and Amusement Device Bureau on Thursday and Friday to inspect the chairlift and the four children’s rides. The park must pass the inspection and be certified before the rides can be operational.

Dolores Quesenberry, spokesperson for the Department of Labor, said three of the “kiddy rides” did not pass inspection because of minor repairs, including bolts and pins that needed to be replaced.

“They should be able to repair those pretty quickly,” she said.

The children’s train that loops around the park needs more substantial repairs, including the replacement of many of the wooden cross ties on the train tracks.

The chairlift also has to be inspected and certified by the state. Quesenberry said six of the chairs would need to be replaced. She said it appeared the chairs weren’t stored to ensure proper water drainage and it caused swelling and cracking in the chairs.

The lift can’t be certified until an evacuation route is completed from the bottom of the mountain to the top underneath the chairlift. As of Friday afternoon when the inspectors left, Quesenberry said the road was not complete.

Burton Edwards, owner of Carolin-A-Contracting, is the contractor for the road project. He said Tuesday the road was more than halfway complete.

“It’s slow and dangerous work, but it’s going to be a great road,” he said.

According to the county's steep slope ordinance, a permit may be needed through the county erosion control office because the work includes both grading and steep slope work.

A surveyor is on site to determine whether more than one-half an acre total is being disturbed, which would trigger the permit process.

Edwards has contacted the county regarding the erosion control permit and any actions that may be required under the county’s slope ordinance.

If cut or fill slopes are  greater than 15 feet high, it would require an engineered slope.

Jennifer Braddish with the county erosion control office said because the road is contoured and zigzags up the mountain, there may not be slopes steep enough to require an engineered plan.

Edwards said the evacuation road that snakes its way up to Ghost Town is 200-feet wide and will be a mile high. It took several pieces of machinery to be able to complete the work because of rocks, he said, and many of the flat rocks are being used along the road for erosion control purposes. Other rocks have to be removed and taken off the road.

He said his crew was putting down $20,000 worth of mulch on the banks as they go and placing gravel on the road to prevent wash out.

“It will be safe — I can drive more than half way up in my pick up truck,” he said. “The state inspector looked at it and said it would be great for extreme sports.”

He also said the road would make it easier for Ghost Town to get water and sewer up the mountain if supplied with water from the Town of Maggie Valley. Water and sewer can’t be pumped straight up the mountain with one pump because the pressure could burst pipes. Now more than one pump could be installed at the switchback points.

Edwards said an engineer was working on the project to ensure proper water drainage. He said an engineered road plan was not required because “this is just an emergency route,” adding that the route would only be used by emergency vehicles.

When the road is complete, she said Ghost Town management can call and schedule another inspection date.

Messages left with Ghost Town General Manager Mike Matthews and owner Alaska Presley were not returned by press time.