Built in 1890 after the historical Johnstown Flood, the Johnstown Inclined Plane is a vehicular inclined plane that carries people and items to and from the valley area. This is the steepest vehicular inclined plane in the world, with 30-foot cars that can carry up to 65 people at one time. The cars are also large enough to care up to 6 motorcycles or even a vehicle. Around 100,000 passengers travel up or down the inclined plane every year, and at one time, when the town was running a number of large steel mills, the inclined plane carried up to one million passengers per year.
After the 1889 Johnstown Flood, the area received a lot of attention statewide and even nationally. However, not much was done to prevent future problems with flooding in the area. The inclined plane saved a number of lives in 1936, when another spring flood ravaged the town. Nearly 4000 people were carried to safety from the flooded valley via the inclined plane. In 1977, the valley again flooded, and along with carrying residents to higher ground, the inclined plane helped to carry rescue workers, boats, emergency equipment, and other needed items down to the valley to help save people and repair the damages. It was only later, after this third flood, that this area began to get the attention it needed to create a safer environment from future floods, but the inclined plane is still a much-needed service for people who live in or travel to Johnstown.
In addition to providing transportation between the two areas, the Johnstown Inclined Plane has become a tourist destination, with many people coming to the attraction just to take the round trip on one of the cars. They hold a number of events every year, including Christmas pictures with Santa at the top of the inclined plane and Pick Passes for fans who want to travel on the inclined plane during the fall and winter to see the Johnstown Cheifs games.
The inclined plane takes visitors to an elevation of 1,693.5 feet, and the track itself is nearly 900 feet long. When visitor ride the inclined plane, they're traveling at a 35 degree angle on cars that weigh 38 tons each. The inclined plane is lit by over 100 high-pressure sodium lamps and a ride one-way lasts 25 minutes. The Johnstown Inclined Plane's two cars balance one another on the cables, so this lift doesn't take much power to run. Samuel Diescher of Pittsburgh designed this machine; he is more famous for designing the machinery that operated the first Ferris Wheel, which premiered at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair.
For those who live in the Johnstown area and intend to ride on the inclined plane often, the best value is to purchase a commuter pass, which costs $10 for 10 rides or $20 for 22 rides (all rides are one-way). For just a single ride, tickets cost $4 for a round-trop or $2.25 for a one-way trip for adults and $2.50 for a round trip and $1.50 for a round trip for children under thirteen. Seniors ride for free, and there are special prices for groups of 20 or more. Guests can also pay to transport their vehicle using the inclined plane for $6.00. Motorcycle transportation costs $4.