Funtopia 5: Legendary Rollercoasters of the Golden Age

The first, feeble, skeletal frameworks that made up the early rollercoasters provided rather tame, undulating trips down wooden slopes.

It was the end of the 19th century and people discovered the sensation of speed. They would line up and pay a few pennies to experience this new taste of thrill.
There was money to be made and so the coasters were soon becoming the main attraction in any amusement park.

They called them the King of the Midway and from day one there was no looking back. The evolution of the thrill was fueled by the insatiable demand of the paying public who constantly aked for something bigger, better, faster and much more terryfing.
And there were a few men, mostly carpenters, who were quickly making a substantial business with their twisted ideas.

John A. Miller is now regarded as one of the most famous and influential coaster builders. Without his innovations such as upstop wheels and anti-rollback devices the quick mutation of coasters from mild scenic railways to frightening, wild, thrill machines would not have been possible. His century old patents are still the basis of every modern steel-coaster.

With the further innovation of flanged wheels there were no bounds anymore. Designers like Miller, Traver and Prior&Church would go all out and dream up some of the most frightening and insane designs. Up until the "roaring twenties" amusement parks and especially rollercoasters were the pinnacle of modern life and entertainment which was in love with speed and electricity.

Before the depression-years forced many parks to close, there were thousands of rollercoasters all over the world. Trial and error was the preliminary design ethic and sometimes the daring transitions would be too much for the human body. But the rides that just offered enough thrill without causing physical damage were the ones that became legends. Sadly most of the most legendary coasters have long been lost.

Thanks to generous collectors who love to share their treasures with the world via Youtube we can now take a look at some of these intimidating, wonderful pieces of fully usable architecture.

For this presentation I once again used Omnisio to combine some vintage film-clips which were collected and placed on Youtube by the coaster-collector Swampfoxer

You´ll see footage of Rye Playland (which still exists today) and its legendary AEROPLANE coaster. This fantastic ride with its spiralling drops was built by Fred Church and thrilled guests from 1928 until 1957. By then it was deemed as too dangerous.

Then there is the holy-grail of coaster-enthusiasts: The Crystal Beach Cyclone! Even by today´s standards the Traver-designed ride looks totally nuts! The layout was a blueprint for many modern coasters. But this Baby shook up its patrons for only 20 years (26-46), fourty years before computer-aided design helped to build rides that would not smash up your spine.

Take a quick glimpse at the Triple Racers which thrilled Texas Fair guests in the thirties.

Now, lets hop on board the Eerie Beach Wildcat. Even if you consider that old films are always running at faster speed: This Kitten goes to eleven! Now remember that cameras were big, heavy equipment back then. Ouch!

A mountain of white lumber made up the Bob-Coaster at Coney Island. The Cyclone, which is still standing today looks like a dwarf compared to this giant.

Last but not least you can take a ride on the legendary Riverview Bobs. One of many great coasters that stood in one of the dearly missed amusement parks: Riverview Park in Chicago.

Now, hold on tight:
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I found out that the embedding can be a bit faulty with Firefox. In case you can´t see the full screen, click here.

Thanks to Swampfoxer for collecting, conserving and exhibiting these wonderful trips back into time.

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