July 14, 2011 —
BARRYVILLE, NY — The oldest canoe livery service along the Upper Delaware River, Kittatinny Canoes, has built a zip line that flies 3,000 feet down the hillside and can top speeds of 60 miles per hour. Owner and entrepreneur Dave Jones got the idea for the zip line after he rode one in Chile. Jones knew he already had the perfect site for the line. From a high hill with a large drop in elevation, views of the Delaware River and the valley surrounding the Kittatinny land, Jones said it worked perfectly with the structure of the line.
A little over 3,000 feet high with a 36-story drop, it’s the fourth largest zip line in the United States. Jones said that because of the topography it would have been impossible for the line to be any bigger. Aside from its height, the line is also a dual line, with two parallel lines so people can zip at the same time.
Bonsai Designs out of Grand Junction Colorado designed and built the line. Jones said the company is one of the largest builders of zip lines and they are good because they are “very meticulous about things.”
Zippers have to wear a full body harness, which Jones said makes people feel like they are flying like a bird. Rather than sitting in a seat, Jones said “you’re actually suspended in the air.” Everything about the line had to meet the Association of Challenge Course Technology’s guidelines.
Zippers have to go through “ground school” where they are given a brief orientation about the zip line, the physical requirements and safety information. Jones suggests people go to the restroom prior to being put into their harness.
To stop, there is a brake which the zipper will hit, and depending on the speed they’re going, there may be a “pretty good impact,” when a zipper hits the brake Jones said. There are maneuvers like the “starfish” to slow down. By extending your arms and legs, zippers can create wind resistance which will slow them down. The ride itself takes a little over a minute.
Members of the Kittatinny staff have to go through a certification course in order to operate the zip line. They have to pass tests and are trained by trained outside vendors on how to rescue people in case of an emergency.
One ride costs $44 and three rides cost $99. Jones recognized that the costs are “substantial,” but he explained “this is not cheap to operate; it’s very intense,” when you include the costs of the harnesses, staffing, insurance and construction. He called the zip line a “big capital investment.”
At this time, Jones figures over 1,000 people have used the line and “people love it,” he said.