Grafton gondola could open by May

GRAFTON, Ill. – The gears of progress are getting set in place in Grafton, Illinois.

“You’ll get in and it will come around and for the open-air chairs there will be a mark on the ground,” said J.D. Lorton, director of operations for Aeries Resort. “They’ll come in it and get in and go straight up the hill.”

At the intersection of Route 100 and Route 3 at the top of the hill at Aerie’s Resort, a first for this community – control towers for the new Grafton Sky Tours.

“The two standards came separate, the long tubes on top came separate, and top control tower came separate,” Lorton said.

In early December, four semi-trailers showed up with different components that will change the views of this touristy river town. The Grafton Sky Tour “chondola” features gondola-style cabins and open-air seating.

“Four clusters of three gondola cabins, in between those clusters will be 15 open-air three-person seats,” Lorton said.

By the end of February, support towers will be in place dotting the hillside up to the river bluff views at 2,600 feet at the confluence of the Illinois and Mississippi rivers. They’re looking at a May opening this year

The project has been in the works for four years thanks to J.D. Lorton’s father, Jeff Lorton, and the late Jerry Pendleton of Sky Trans Manufacturing,

“This project isn’t just about Aerie’s Resort, it’s about basically the whole town,” Lorton said. “We’re putting a shuttle system which the city is going to contribute the green space in parking lots. We’re going to have 800 more parking spaces in town which will help every business in the city of Grafton.”

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