Oldest operating coasters/early Kennywood questions

KnoebelsGrandCarousel's avatar

We all know that the oldest operating roller coaster is Leap the Dips at Lakemont Park (1902), but I got to thinking the other day about what are the other oldest coasters still left standing out there? Does anyone have a list of the other oldest operating coasters (both in the US and internationally)? I believe the oldest other than Leap the Dips that I have been on and that I know of is Jackrabbit at Kennywood (1921). Are there any in the US that I have missed between those 2? I looked on rcdb and it does not sort by year.

Once I started thinking about Jackrabbit at Kennywood, I started to wonder how and why did Kennywood build three major woodies in under a decade in the 1920's? It seems that many parks during this age had a 'crown jewel' wooden coaster but I can't think of any other park that had three in that era. Was there that much of a demand for three big coasters, maybe large crowds during this time? Also, how were they able to pull it off financially? Both in the original investment and the maintenance? I've always been fascinated that the three woodies were originally (using Pippin instead of Thunderbolt) built in a span of seven years.

rollergator's avatar

Duane does all the work for you (in advanced search mode):


Clicking on "year opened" makes the search results sort by age... :)

Jeff's avatar

Well they weren't building steel coaster then, so... :) Just kidding. I think with the terrain they had, why wouldn't you build those rides? Also, if I understand the history of the park right, perhaps they understood that higher capacity (i.e., more rides) meant happy people who would come back.

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Phrazy

KnoebelsGrandCarousel's avatar

Ah...advanced search mode. Thanks for that. :)

And Jeff, I agree I love those woodies and the way they weave through the terrain. Will be there next Friday. :) I'll be the smiling fool in the backseat of all the woodies.

The 20s were a great time in American history.* WWI and the flu epidemic were things of the past, women gained the right to vote, and there were a lot of advances in technology, relatively speaking. Cars were becoming more popular, the percentage of people who owned their own homes was increasing. The work week was shorter, and everyone from the top down was at least a bit more better off financially.

With more money and more free time, people were looking for ways to spend both. Especially since they couldn't drink, well, legally anyway. Amusement parks were a major source of entertainment across the country at a time when choices were limited. There were literally hundreds of coasters built across the country during the 20s. So it's no big deal that Kennywood would have built 3 during that same time period.

Adjusting gator's search parameters slightly shows all the coasters listed on rcdb in the US (operating and defunct) in the order of opening. The 20s really were a golden age for roller coasters.


*And BTW, before anyone comes up with a smart ass remark, no I don't know any of this from personal experience.

I was going to say, what was Theodore Roosevelt like in real life, but since you've already shot it down.... ;)

My author website: mgrantroberts.com

Mamoosh's avatar

So you were born in 1930, RGB? :)

Except that Kennywood's Jackrabbit was built in 1921 by almost every account I heard and not 1920 as indicated in that search. Not to mention the 1927 Racer was the second Racer, but I think the first was before up stops and was located in the general area of kiddyland.

There's some confusion over Jack Rabbit's opening because park literature lists both 1920 and 1921. RCDB lists it as 1920, as does ACE. My instruction manual for the ride says 1921, but it also says the ride is almost 70 years old, making that part of the manual 20+ years out of date. I can't remember where, but I'm pretty sure I've have seen the park refer to the Rabbit as 90 years old this year as well. I guess unless your OCD about it though, one or two spots in the order doesn't really matter.

I've wondered how much old woodies have changed though. I found a picture of the lagoon from the 50's, and the Jack Rabbit looks to have a lot more structure than it does now (full TR). Did John Miller got the double dip correct the first time, or did it take years of tinkering to perfect it? Also, the trains are only 59 years old. Were the trains built to fit the track, or was the track re-profiled?

Mamoosh said:
So you were born in 1930, RGB? :)

You got three of the numbers right. Just slice off my arm and count the rings.

Just slice off my arm and count the rings.

That sounds vaguely Mob-like. ;)

My author website: mgrantroberts.com

Kennywood's Jack Rabbit opened on June18, 1920. Several newspaper articles and even advertisements dated June 1920 prove of the ride's existence then. Even Kennywood now agrees that the ride opened in 1920, not 1921 as previously thought.

Charles Jacques Jr.'s original Kennywood book says no more than designed in 1920. Liked a few pages later showed a Racer crew in their uniforms and there were like 8 or 9 of them. They could use that many now. Kennywood had an 85th birthday party for the ride in 2006. Interesting though.

He corrected that in his second book "More Kennywood Memories" if you look in the year by year index in the back of the book. He lists that the ride was added in 1920.

Kennywood management realizes that the "Historic District Sign" that's been on the coaster for many years is in error listing 1921 as the year it opened. They also have a similar error with the Auto Race, listing it opened in 1926, but it actually wasn't built until 1930. In fact, it would be impossible since the park's original Aerial Racer coaster was located there in 1926!

I probably shouldn't find it this interesting but for a park that always has been about its history it has been unsure over when some of its most significant rides opened. Never really heard 1920 till now.

The Spring of '27 was a busy one for the park. Not only was John Miller there building the new Racer, but Wm. H. Dentzel came out from Philly to personally supervise the installation of the carousel.

kpjb's avatar

Also, the park's 100th year was celebrated in 1998, which was actually the 101st season... but who's counting?


Tekwardo's avatar

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