Schmeck's legacy lives on in coasters around the country

Posted Saturday, May 2, 2009 12:59 PM | Contributed by Jeff

As amusement parks open around the nation this weekend and roller coaster enthusiasts chase down the ultimate ride, many will find it in one of the creations of a former Reading carpenter who gained fame as a designer of thrill rides. The many legacies of Herbert P. Schmeck are scattered throughout America, many of them nearby in his home state. The Reading native, who died in 1956, designed more than 80 wooden roller coasters during his career in the early to mid-20th century.

Read more from The Reading Eagle.

Saturday, May 2, 2009 1:23 PM

All that I have to say to this one is:


And thank you Mr. Schmeck for building the ride that sparked my love of coasters.

Saturday, May 2, 2009 1:50 PM

CoasterBuzzers are at least partially, indirectly responsible for the events in this article. Rob mentioned the Jenkins biography of Schmeck, which I mentioned to the friend I was talking about in this thread, who contacted the head of the Reading Public Library about the book, and remarkably, the library did not have a copy. The person acknowledged as the local historian also wasn't aware of Schmeck's importance in the roller coaster industry (or his existence, really).

Well, the library had a roller coaster theme for their children's department a few weeks ago and invited Jenkins to speak. My friend spoke with him and mentioned how she was trying to find out if he was related, but had trouble finding any records. Jenkins said he'd actually delayed publication of the book because he couldn't verify the birthdate with a second source and had very little else about his early life.

And so, Reading/Berks County has discovered a noteworthy native son. :)

ETA: It's worth noting that this story was front page center, above the fold, in the print edition. (Right next to swine flu.)

Last edited by birdhombre, Saturday, May 2, 2009 1:53 PM
Saturday, May 2, 2009 4:58 PM

I work in Berks county! :)

Anyhow, that's cool. I didn't realize this area is where he was from, although it makes perfect sense. Long live the Phoenix!

Sunday, May 3, 2009 12:24 AM


I do miss the Phoenix. It immediately jumped to my #1 wood when I first rode it 6 years ago and now that I live in Texas, I haven't ridden it in about 3 years.

Sunday, May 3, 2009 7:06 AM

Touchdown, YOU STOLE MY LINE!!!!!


Sunday, May 3, 2009 12:36 PM

ApolloAndy said:Reschmeckification.

I remember hearing for a couple years at least about "restorative enhancements" to LC's Wildcat. Still a solid ride, but you know there's a beast of a ride (still) hiding in that lumber pile - not unlike Dorney's T-Hawk.

I do miss the Phoenix.

Bring the missus to is in many ways a religious Pilgrimage. :)

Sunday, May 3, 2009 1:29 PM

Baby due in Sept.
Not going to happen. :-P

Sunday, May 3, 2009 3:17 PM

^^Hopman, the early bird gets the worm ;).

Monday, May 4, 2009 7:33 AM

Just ribbing you Touch. You a Cannonballer too?

Monday, May 4, 2009 3:31 PM

rollergator said:
I remember hearing for a couple years at least about "restorative enhancements" to LC's Wildcat. Still a solid ride, but you know there's a beast of a ride (still) hiding in that lumber pile - not unlike Dorney's T-Hawk.

Those are two coasters that definitely need to have their Schmeck-ness restored. Good rides that could clearly be great rides, even if they are from Schmeck's earlier days and not the days of his masterpieces like Phoenix and Crystal Beach Comet.

Monday, May 4, 2009 7:59 PM

I dont get to ride it often, but I adore that ride. My first spin on it was when I was 2 (2 weeks before my 3rd birthday) and then I couldnt ride for a summer because they instituted a height limit. My first coaster, and still parked at #3 on my wooden coaster list (behind the Beast and Shivering Timbers.)

Monday, May 4, 2009 8:03 PM

Hersheypark's Comet is another coaster I think is currently a shadow of what it once was. Unless my memories of it were bigger than reality, which is entirely possible since I was pretty young the first several times I rode it.

Monday, May 4, 2009 9:55 PM

Rode Phoenix yesterday after the rain. Mmmmmmm. :)

Monday, May 4, 2009 10:06 PM

^I hate you... :) Hope it was a COLD rain at least. ;)

Monday, May 4, 2009 10:28 PM

Says the man who lives by the resort that transcends theme parks, one that comes pretty darn close to doing so as well and two Busch Parks. Cry me a river, just wait till I find my world's smallest violin. ;).

People who live in either PA, OH or FL really shouldnt be posting about how unfair it is to not live near park X. FL doesnt have a good wooden coaster, OH lacks a good theme park and doesnt have a good wooden coaster roster, PA lacks a good theme park and doesnt have a great steel coaster roster. We all are missing something, but are far better off then any of our fellow enthusiasts that live elsewhere. Thats all I have to say.

Last edited by Touchdown, Monday, May 4, 2009 10:38 PM
Tuesday, May 5, 2009 5:55 AM

Gee. I'm grateful to have a kickin' woodie with so colse, I can go ride for an evening, plus SFNE within two hours. NH isn't that bad.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009 2:50 PM

I think PR is a great steel coaster. :-P


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