Herbert Schmeck Oldies... Who's ridden them?

Wednesday, August 27, 2003 2:50 PM
Recently I was browsing around rcdb, and I came across several coasters that look quite interesting. All are Herbert Schmeck designs, and sadly all have been closed or demolished sometime between 1983 & 87. However, that doesn't mean there are people on this site that haven't ridden them, and I would like to know if anyone has, what the rides are like? Also I would like to know if anyone has any information surrounding the closing/destruction of these rides and thier parks? So without further ado... here are the coasters:

Mountain Park's Mountain Flyer

Bertrand Island's Wildcat

Idora Park's Wildcat

Thanks in advance, all for now,


Wednesday, August 27, 2003 3:02 PM
While I have not been on these coasters (and thus probably shouldn't respond) it is times like these that make me hate being the age I am. These wonderful coasters were demolished before I was even born, which is both sad and tragic. Parks need to stop building original woodies until we have all the classics back... it's a dream. :(


Wednesday, August 27, 2003 3:33 PM
I don't mind other responses... just trying to drag out some of the elder buzzers to get some of their input. But I agree... parks should seriously consider rebuilding coaster classics. I would personally love to see a rebuilt Rye Beach Airplane Coaster, a Riverview Bobs, or the classic Cyclone Racer appear at a park sometime. I can dream, can't I?

-BB (for once wishing he was 50)

Wednesday, August 27, 2003 4:09 PM
Parker, you hit my nail right on the head. I think that some of these classic rides should be rebuilt before any new designs are done. Cedar Point should rebuild its Harry Traver designed Cyclone, before they even think about putting more metal in that place. nuff said.

I've spoken with several engineers about this same topic of bringing back these classic old woodies. It can be done people, with little or no significant modifications necessary to the designs. Unlike what Funtime/Summers did with the Wolf Kabobs at Geauga Lake, the actual Bobs coaster can be rebuilt almost true to its original drawings.

I rode the Meyer's Lake Comet in Canton Ohio before it was mercilessly torn down in 1974. It was a Schmeck design similar to the Phoenix, except it was slightly taller and the four track runs all had slight bends in them. When I ride the Phoenix, I almost can imagine the old coaster at Meyer's Lake.

There are a lot of designs we could add to the list besides the ones I've mentioned and also the ones stated above in the other posts:

San Souci-Bearcat

Puritas Springs-Cyclone

Coney Island(OH)-Shooting Star

Coney Island(NY)-Tornado

etc., etc.,etc., .....................

There were so many designs that were once true thrillers, we only need to look and see what was once in our own backyards!!

Wood - anything else is an imitation
*** This post was edited by Thrillerman 8/27/2003 8:15:34 PM ***

Wednesday, August 27, 2003 5:43 PM
jkpark's avatar I remember the Idora Wildcat. I never rode the coaster (I was about 3 when the park closed :( ) For 17 years, the coaster along with it's sister, the Jack Rabbit sat vacant at the abandoned park. I visited the park many times after it closed and got a great closer look at both coasters. The Wildcat (what was left of it) had such a great layout.

Ask anyone from Youngstown about the Wildcat, it lives up to it's name! There's a chance the Wildcat and Jack Rabbit being recreated in future.


Wednesday, August 27, 2003 6:35 PM
There is actually little chance the Idora coasters will be rebuilt, especially on the old Idora site. If you've ever been there, it is in a very unsavory part of Youngstown (actually the whole city is unsavory - I can say that since I am originally from there). The Idora Wildcat was originally constructed with a swooping first drop and was later modified to have a straight, flat drop off of a horseshoe turn (the portion of the ride that actually was left after the fire). The coaster was also famous for its fan curve (which was the portion of the ride that was destroyed by fire).

The coaster had a very uninteresting but compact double figure-eight layout, but what really gave this coaster its dubious reputation were its interesting banking elements, the fan curve, and its multiple tunnels, none of which actually remained during the last years of its operation. At the time of its demise in 1984 it was still ranked on several top ten lists of the world's best wooden rollercoasters.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't Hersheypark's COMET a Schmeck? This is a classic wooden rollercoaster, and I was quite impressed with its expansive layout when I first visited the park. Hershey maintains the coaster quite well, too (at least they did the last time I was there).
"That's DOCTOR Evil. I didn't spend six years in evil medical school to be called 'Mr. Thank You Very Much.'"

Wednesday, August 27, 2003 6:59 PM
I grew up visiting Bertrand Island but never got a chance to ride the Wildcat. In fact, I don't even recall even seeing it operate. It may not have run much during the later years. Bertrand Island was a mix of a lakeside resort and a trolley park. The coaster was known as the Cyclone at one time (I don't know the actual years it was named that). It featured a double dip and it ran the entire length of the park.

Bertrand Island closed after the 1983 season. A victim of rising land values and suburban sprawl. It was a nice park though with a bunch of classic rides including a Traver circle swing and an unusual, possibly one of a kind ride called the boomerang. The coaster and much of the park stood abandoned for several years until being completely demolished in 1986. Plans were to fill to the site with condos. For years, nothing was done. Ground was broken for the condos just last year.

The Lake Hopatcong Historical Museum features an extensive exhibit on the park. There is also a book and video available (with POV footage of the Wildcat). A few brief scenes for the Woody Allen movie "The Purple Rose of Cairo" were filmed in the Wildcat station in 1984.

There is a yahoo group on Bertrand Island at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/bertrandisland/ lots of links to many Bertrand Island pictures and info.

A lot of people in Northern NJ fondly remember and miss Bertrand Island. It was the last link to Lake Hopatcong's resort heritage.

Oh, and I enjoyed my rides on Wolf Kabobs this year. The new trackwork is amazing. I agree with Thrillerman about Cedar Point though, Big Whoop Dragster doesn't do it for me but a recreated Cyclone would get me back to the park real quick!
Ripple Rock Amusement Park
Flying Scooter coming soon!

*** This post was edited by millrace 8/27/2003 11:09:41 PM ***

Wednesday, August 27, 2003 7:14 PM
You are correct opthodoc, Hersheyparks' Comet is a Schmeck design. Great Escape Comet(formerly Crystal Beach's) is also a Schmeck design. The Phoenix and Meyer's Lake Comet were also built during the same era as the Hershey and Crystal Beach rides(1945-1948).

I wish I could have ridden the Idora Wildcat. I never had a means to get to Idora during my life and now I'm regretful of it. That coaster could be rebuilt doc, but you're right about not being in the same location. The design is not as strenuous as you might think. The track was pretty warped in its last couple of seasons. That's why the ride was so bad on curve transitions. You have to remember too that the first hill and speed hill after were not original to Herbs design. The coaster had a curving first drop with two speed hills following in its original state.

Wood - anything else is an imitation
*** This post was edited by Thrillerman 8/27/2003 11:25:21 PM ***

Thursday, August 28, 2003 2:54 AM
jkpark's avatar

ophthodoc said:
There is actually little chance the Idora coasters will be rebuilt, especially on the old Idora site. If you've ever been there, it is in a very unsavory part of Youngstown (actually the whole city is unsavory - I can say that since I am originally from there).

"That's DOCTOR Evil. I didn't spend six years in evil medical school to be called 'Mr. Thank You Very Much.'"

Actually there is, and I know all about the property. I live 3 miles from the park. It's owned by a local church who isn't interested in selling it. However, a local man has purchased land near the Lake Milton area to construct a new park. If built, the facility will be home to the new Jack Rabbit and Wildcat. This isn't for sure, but not ruled out.


Thursday, August 28, 2003 3:54 AM
The Idora Park Wildcat was one of the first coasters I ever rode. (Baby Wilcat & Jackrabbit came first) For an 8 yr old it certainly was very scary yet exhilarating. I remember riding 3 to a car, (me, my brother and mother) the tunnels, the speed and the out-of-control feel of the ride. It truly was a ride to remember.
Thursday, August 28, 2003 8:04 AM
In Montreal, we had the Parc Belmont north of the island (Montreal is an island). Its had one of the first wild mouse (late 50's) named the "Mouse Trap" and what relates to this topic:

A Schmeck out and back called "Cyclone". Its was lots of fun, according to my parents, who rode it tons and tons of times. Its was sadly demolished in 1982 when the whole park gave way to condos...

Thursday, August 28, 2003 9:23 AM
Schmeck is probably my all-time favorite coaster designer, simply because all of his creations seem to have/had character that is missing in many of today's rides. The only modern designers that seemed to "get" wooden coasters like Schmeck did were those that worked with CCI throughout the years (McNulty, Bill, etc.)

I have had the pleasure of experiencing the Phoenix, Thunderhawk, Herhey and Lake George Comets and the Compounce Wildcat- all existing examples of Schmeck's work. I've also ridden the SFA Wild One, which was modified from its original Miller design in the 30's by Schmeck (I'm not sure how much of the ride is "Schmeck", but after riding it, I am willing to bet a lot). The Phoenix is my all-time favorite wooden coaster because it embodies everything that I look for in a wooden coaster- great drop, loads of airtime-producing speed hills, fast turns with laterals, a double-up AND double-down and a fantastic tunnel. It is, IMO, wooden coaster perfection, and only Boulder Dash comes close to touching it.

Regretfully, I was born "too late" to have been old enough to have experienced many of Schmeck's rides (I was born in 1978- a time when most were already down or were on their way). To this day, I kick myself for not having taken an interest in coasters earlier, because when my family moved to Morristown NJ in 1984, we were only 20 minutes away from Bertrands Island. I know that it was the last year of operation from the park, but it bugs me that, at one point, I lived within miles of a classic Schmeck out-and-back and never rode it! How I would have loved to have ridden that, or the Idora Wildcat!

Thankfully, there are still many good examples of Schmeck coasters still out there- the trio in PA, the LC Wildcat, the GE Comet, the Yankee Cannonball at Canobie Lake and the Roller Coaster at Joyland. Plus there are those smaller ones, too, like the Chicago Little Dippers and the Waldameer Comet Jr. Not many "classic" designers have so many of their creations represented so long after they designed their rides!

A.C.E. member since 1990
Posting @ Coasterbuzz since 2000
E.C.C. member since 2002


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