Rollercoaster Rollback - Herb Schmeck

Tuesday, October 22, 2002 10:08 AM
rollergator's avatar

Always surprised that the rollback doesn't get more "play". Maybe I'm just more interested in the history than most others, but I always get alot out of it, and even though it often seems to be "bad news", it's always a cool tidbit.

Today's date shows that Herb Schmeck died on this day in '56. Thus far, the only rides I've been on that he worked on (to my knowledge) are HP's Comet, Phonenix and Wild One. Darn fine crop there....Phoenix is tied for my fav woodie, and Comet was my #200!

So the point of this is two-fold: First, does anyone else get as much from the rollback as I do? Second, what are your Schmecks, and your opinions on them?

Tuesday, October 22, 2002 10:25 AM

I used to read the Rollback pretty frequently, but don't pay much attention anymore. I should probably get back to checking it out more often, as there's some interesting info on there.

Schmecks I have ridden:

Phoenix - My favorite out and back. The ultimate Air Machine.

Comet @ HP - A beautiful T-shaped out and back. If I could have only ridden it before that lame trim was added. I bet all those bunnies would be killer.

Comet @ Waldameer - A really, really good Family/Junior wood coaster. Probably my favorite of its kind.

Thunderhawk @ Dorney - Like the Comet @ HP, another great design with a lame trim.

"Tell everybody waitin' for a Superman that they should try to hold on the best they can." - The Flaming Lips "Waitin' for a Superman"

Tuesday, October 22, 2002 10:40 AM
rollergator's avatar D'Oh, how could I have forgotten ThunderHawk!....and where's the emoticon for extreme embarrassment!
Tuesday, October 22, 2002 10:43 AM
Gator - What was Schmeck's role in Wild One? I thought it was a Miller.
Tuesday, October 22, 2002 10:59 AM
rollergator's avatar

Pretty sure that it was a "reliable source" that said Schmeck had a *significant* role in a re-build after a fire....

Remember, this is the Giant Coaster from Paragon, and has had enough history for several other coasters...;)

Tuesday, October 22, 2002 11:18 AM

That makes sense, so add Wild One to my list.

Are we the only 'Schmeckies' here today?

Can we go to Vancouver now?

*** This post was edited by chris on 10/22/2002. ***

Tuesday, October 22, 2002 11:22 AM
rollergator's avatar

Love the new sig, chris....Sorry that CAC seems to rule out the Puyallup fair....(love the name Puyallup , BTW, not sure why)...only wish that someone around this place watched Red Dwarf, just so my joke about being a "Schmeck-head" would be appreciated....

oh well, it makes ME smile, and that's what I'm really here for anyway...;)

Tuesday, October 22, 2002 11:28 AM
wouldnt that be "Smeg-head"?
--who used to watch Red Dwarf every week, but those late ESPN college football games have put that to rest Go IRISH!
Tuesday, October 22, 2002 11:38 AM

Schmeck Coasters I've ridden:

Comet (Hersheypark): My "sentimental" favorite. Tamed down in recent years however.

Phoenix (Knoebels): My actual favorite... insane air.

Comet (Waldameer): good little coaster

Rollo Coaster (Idlewild): good little coaster for its size. "Intense" turn around.

Thunderhawk (Dorney): Fun coaster. Wild air in seat 1-3.

Wild One (SFA... though this was a Schmeck rework/rebuild... not an original. It was originally a J Miller design): Great air time machine. However, not sure just how much this coaster resembles its originall Miller design or Schmeck redesign.


Two Schmeck coasters that I definately want to get to next year...

Comet (Great Escape): I am surprised no one here has mentioned this "predecessor" to Traver's legendary Cyclone. While there are those who contend that Comet is a "reprofile" of Cyclone, all accounts that I have read is while Schmeck may have used some of the Cyclone's structure (some accounts even say lift hill), the design of the rides are so drastically different that Comet resembels the Cyclone no more than my refridgerator resembles the tin can that was recycled to make it.

Yankee Cannonball (Canobie Lake)

Wildcat (Lake Compounce)


Schmeck coaster I wish I would have had a chance to ride but was torn down in the 1980's...

Wildcat (Rocky Spring Park, Lancaster PA)


Schmeck coaster I wish I could travel back in time to ride...

Wildcat (Hersheypark... 1923-1945)


This past year at Hersheypark I saw, for the first time Comet T-shirts. I bought one... and then on another visit bought a second one (I like the design better than the first). I also have a Phoenix T-shirt. I told my wife that I felt like taking them to the local printing shop and having the backs of them lettered. The name "H. SCHMECK" across the back shoulders (like names on sports jerseys) and the number "46" on the one Comet T (the year it was built) and the number "47" on the Phoenix T (its year of construction). Haven't done it yet though.

Kind of hard to take a post as objective if a park or coaster name is part of the "user name"

Tuesday, October 22, 2002 11:39 AM

From what I understand, the Wild One (then the Giant Coaster) was completely redesigned and rebuilt by Schmeck in the thirties. The original ride was a slow-looking double out-and-back, while the "new" ride is a single out-and-back. This may sound silly since many claim that all out-and-backs look the same, but the Wild One seems to look more Schmeck than Miller. Could be my imagination, though...

As far as Schmecks I have ridden:

Thunderhawk: A good ride that has a mean turnaround with slamming, swooping drops... could have great airtime on the return to the station if the trims were removed

HP Comet: Good first & second drops, the trim on the turn before the out-and-back stretch KILLS the second half of the ride, which looks as though it could be phenominal

Phoenix: My all-time fav woodie... what hasn't been said about this ride?

Lake Compounce Wildcat: Nice speedy turns, a little rough in the back... not much air, but fun nonetheless

GE Comet: Ridden back in 1994 or 95 so I don't remember much besides the fact that I liked it!

Tuesday, October 22, 2002 12:49 PM

Well, to answer the first part,I at least glance at the Rollback on a daily basis. I like this sort of trivia. In fact, I used the handy new feature to place the Rollback on my website alongside the news in the box of content provided by Coasterbuzz. News and history belong side by side.

Now Schmeck - I have had a lot of positive Herb Shmeck ride experiences. Phoenix of course tops the list. My GE Comet ride was not all that great, but I rode it in 1999, and it has been noted the Comet ran badly that summer.

David Bowers
Mayor, Coasterville

Tuesday, October 22, 2002 1:40 PM

Mr Schmeck did the Roller Coaster at Joyland in Wichita Kansas. Still runs the 1948 vintage PTC rolling stock with fixed lap bars.


Tuesday, October 22, 2002 2:31 PM

Schmeck head here even though my experience is limited.

Phoenix, Wildcat, Thunderhawk (Unbraked)

John Allen could have learned something from Miller and Schmeck but didn't.


Charles Nungester.
Is it about coasters or friends? I say both!

Tuesday, October 22, 2002 2:43 PM
Im pretty sure Yankee Cannonball was made by him so thats mine.

Im the #1 Canobie Lake Park Fan!!!These are my top 3 coasters:
1. S:RoS @ SFNE 2. Yankee Cannonball 3. Cyclone/B:TDK

Tuesday, October 22, 2002 5:19 PM
I haven't ridden any of them but I want to ride Phoenix. And to think it was once 2 hours away...

Arrow, even the straight parts of our coasters hurt.

Tuesday, October 22, 2002 5:50 PM

Let's not forget the now-gone Idora Park Wildcat. Actually, Herbert Schmeck, under the Philadelphia Toboggan Company, called his rollercoaster designs "Wildcat" whenever the park didn't have another name in mind. In a similar fashion, John Miller used "Jack Rabbit" for his designs.

Hershey's Comet and Dorney's Thunderhawk are both excellent coasters. They don't quite exemplify his tight, compact footprint like many of his others did, but they are period classics nonetheless.

*** This post was edited by ophthodoc on 10/22/2002. ***

Tuesday, October 22, 2002 5:53 PM

Wow, I never realized how many of Schmeck's designs I've been on.

Phoenix at Knoebel's

Comet at Hersheypark

Comet at Waldameer

Thunderhawk at Dorney

Wild One at SFA

Rollo Coaster at Idlewild

Wildcat at Idora Park

Tuesday, October 22, 2002 6:44 PM
Wow, I'm surprised I haven't heard much talk about the Great Escape Comet, easily the best Schmeck coaster still with us today! The GE Comet is a wonderful ride, with great speed, airtime, awesome laterals on some of the track jogs, and it is a long ride. It is a top 10 caliber coaster IMHO. For those that haven't ridden it, think of it as the Phoenix on steriods. The only part of the GE Comet that is not top notch is the first drop, which is average. From the first turnaround on the GE Comet can compete with great CCIs. It is one of the few coasters pre-CCI, that has the wonderful high speed, airtime filled pacing of the '95-'01 CCIs! I highly recommend a visit, espically at night when the Comet turns up about 3 notches!

Wednesday, October 23, 2002 6:01 AM

Ansley - The Comet at Great Escape is definitly on the list of things to do.

Unfortunately, that list keeps getting longer and longer instead of shorter and shorter.

Can we go to Vancouver now?

Wednesday, October 23, 2002 9:39 AM
I haven't ridden anything built/designed by Mr. Schmeck.I dont' think he built anything here in the Pacific Northwest.I am intrigued by the Knoebels' Phoenix.It seem that is is the East Coast equivalent of the Vancouver PNE Playland Coaster.As far as Rollercoaster Rollback goes ,I glance at it once in a while.I have tried to submit material to RR about Carl Phare and Jantzen Beach Amusement Park(a defunct park in Portland,OR),but Rideman must have felt there was not enough interest.

Lets' save the Vancouver PNE Coaster before its'too late!


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