Screechin' Eagle roller coaster removed from LeSourdsville Lake

Posted Saturday, August 13, 2011 4:12 PM | Contributed by Jeff

The Screechin’ Eagle, one of the most popular attractions at LeSourdsville Lake/Americana amusement park, was removed earlier this week, park historian Scott Fowler said Friday. Park owner Jerry Couch, who runs the RV dealership at the park site, said Friday he had safety concerns about the coaster remaining standing, and that parts of the track and the cars will be donated to a roller coaster museum.

Read more from The Middletown Journal.

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Saturday, August 13, 2011 8:02 PM

Damn another classic woodie gone and one I NEVER got to ride!

Last edited by RoarsLoudly, Sunday, August 14, 2011 12:27 AM
Sunday, August 14, 2011 12:19 AM

Sad to lose such an incredible ride. May sound blasphemous but I think it was better then Phoenix. Scary airtime.

-Brent Kneebush

Sunday, August 14, 2011 12:35 AM
CoasterDemon's avatar

The drop off the turn around and the one right after, were damn scary moments of ejector air time. No seat belts either.

Sunday, August 14, 2011 2:23 AM

I always loved the second drop of the coaster. It crested, Turned and dropped. Completely blind to the rider and it went to the ground on every drop until its final two seasons. They raised the second drop in 99 and first drop in 2002. Needless to say, Some of the Violence was gone but that was also due to seat dividers as well. Still I came down in the other seat a few times in 2002 when ridding alone. sometimes causing a instant OH CRAP this is gonna hurt decision to forcibly move to the other rather than landing on top of the divider. The drop off the turnaround in the front seat was no g. You just kinda stayed a inch above the seat all the way down. The back seat, Your arse would hit that EXTRA padding belt or not.

She will be missed................

Sunday, August 14, 2011 2:30 AM

I wish I'd been in touch with my addiction back when. I'm sorry I missed it.

My author website:

Sunday, August 14, 2011 12:15 PM
coasterqueenTRN's avatar

RIP Screechin Eagle!

Since 2002 you have and will always be one of my favorite coasters of all-time!


Monday, August 15, 2011 8:53 AM

What is truly unfortunate, is, when I visited the park in 2002 (the only time), it seemed like it had a lot of potential as a smaller park. Prices were a bit high for parking, but overall, it could have been a real nice alternative place to visit.

2000's haven't been kind to roller coasters.

Monday, August 15, 2011 10:35 AM
rollergator's avatar

"Dare to Fly" - RIP, Screechin' Eagle... :(

Monday, August 15, 2011 12:35 PM
janfrederick's avatar

Man, to think I was only 10 miles away from this when I visited King's Island seven years ago.

"I go out at 3 o' clock for a quart of milk and come home to my son treating his body like an amusement park!" - Estelle Costanza
Monday, August 15, 2011 2:26 PM

Screechin' Eagle (then named Cyclone) was my first full-sized roller coaster ever, 50 years ago this summer. We were re-united in the 70's when I was in college at Miami University, and I would make it a point to visit the park, through it's ups and downs, every year or so from that point on. I'm very sad today to hear it's gone now.

News like this certainly makes me appreciate the Kennywoods of the world even more.

Monday, August 15, 2011 2:54 PM
CoasterDemon's avatar

Screechin' Eagle logo/sticker:

I always loved this, very appropriate too!

Monday, August 15, 2011 3:29 PM
rollergator's avatar

RCMAC said:
News like this certainly makes me appreciate the Kennywoods of the world even more.

From my experience, there really is only one "other Kennywood", and that's Blackpool. No park that I know of contains more than one classic wooden coaster from "the first golden age".

You still have Zoidberg.... You ALL have Zoidberg! (V) (;,,;) (V)

Monday, August 15, 2011 4:19 PM

Kennywood reminds me of Lesourdville of the early 70s. Lesourdsville had some unique rides A couple Tracey Haunted houses. A PTC carousel, Lusse Skooters and a Kangaroo. Motorboats in the lake. The Speedway and Antique cars (Now at Kentucky Kingdom) NAD Trains. Rock-O/Plane. Killer FLying Scooters A Cinema 360 , A weird ride called Space Combat that was quirky and fun, Whip and one damn fine Woodie.

Like RC Mac. SE was probably my first adult wooden coaster. Our family gathered there for picnics, came and go as we pleased. Swam, rode and always had a great time

Monday, August 15, 2011 4:38 PM

Post Type = Weepy nostalgic.

Coming from the Cincinnati area, I have many fond memories of the Screechin Eagle, despite not really being "into" coasters (ok, didn't really ride coasters until 1987).

My early memories of the Eagle come from UAW/Ford fall picnincs at Americana. Back then the ride still had the Big Old Brake Levers, which facinated me as you could "see them work the rollercoaster", not like when they press buttons up on a panel in a booth. I can remember nights when trying to run th ride with minimal staff, they would load the train and the guy would jog the train forward with the levers and check bars and belts as the cars came to him. I most certainly remember it having seatbelts in the late eighties, as I remember the comical exchange between the ride op and another guest "Fasten your seatbelt." "Why, heck, I don't even wear them in my car" I do seem to recall most seats had one shared belt, except the back seat which had individual belts. I suppose for the extreme airtime. Also, always hoping for the coveted distracted operator who would pull the lever too late, leading to an overshoot, leading to a free ride. (The park was pay-per-ride at the time)

I also know it had belts, as I had a lapbar failure on that ride once, so I KNOW the belt held me in that ride.

Funny story on one of my early rides on it, I was riding sinlge, so I was grouped with a party of three, one parent and two kids. They put one of the kids on it with me. Note that kid was much younger than I was. By the turnaround, while the parent and other kid were in the seat behind me yucking it up, the other kid had gabbed a hold of me and was obviosuly terrified by the ride. I'm not the cuddly kid type. Parent looks at me like I ruined juniors coaster ride!!!

A few years later, the fire engine red CCI train made an appearance. That ride added a new level of violence to the ride as it had ratchet bars that were little more than bare metal tubing. But the park got a new train out of it, which gave them some advancements, like automated lap bar control integrated into the new computer (for the second train which never came), and flush loading.

You may recall that train didn't last long, and the NAD train came back, purple this time. Gone were all the things the CCI fixed, but it became rideable again. I recall the lapbars, the outer bar that could have used padding was bare, the inner bar that you never touched was nicely padded. It was in this train I recall going up there with a friend to see "just how many times you could ride the ride in a day" Answer: way too many.

Then the park got the ELitch Gardens trains, and by marrying the NAD chasis to the PTC body, the park regained the automatic lapbar control and flush loading it wanted, with a comfortable train (well, except for the so short you'd painfully land on them seat dividers) the riders would accept.

Shame that the year the park looked its best, and the Screechin Eagle rode the best they had in years was 2002. At least my last memories of the ride are great ones. I was there in September on the day "all heck broke loose" and much of the staff revolted, leaving them with enough crew to maybe run 5-6 rides in the entire park. The Eagle wasn't going to be one of them until I commented in the midway gift shop about how deplorable my day was going, and how I wanted to ride the Eagle. Somehow they managed to get a ride operator there, and as I was one of the last customers wiling to put up with the way the park was running, he gave me 10 nice rides barely stopping in the station. As I took the 10th and final ride I thought to myself "If this keeps up, this will be my last ever ride on this" Man, sometimes, I hate being right!

All that said, I had personally given up on the Eagle a couple seasons ago. By this time, all that would be salvageable would be for somebody to make carefuly detailed sketches and rebuild her. But why do that when you can drive right across town to Gravity Group?

So now, we as enthusiasts have closure. At least we won't be haunted by videos of the rides demolition, or worse, tuning into the 6 oc'clock news to see it going up in a gigantic fireball caused by some punk arsonist who probably never rode it to begin with. Also for the park, no more worries about somebody trying to climb the lift hill and falling off our commiting suicide, or otherwise getting hurt. It's painful, but the right move. At least the "Dare To Fly" train will live on at the coaster museum.

Earlier this season, I was at Strickers Grove, and talking with the Strickers, they commented they had just purchased the Pirat from Lesourdsville, and that Couch has moved all the remaining kiddie rides to the old Fantasy Farm location. They said the only rides left in the park were the Eagle and the Log Flume. Now we just have the log flume. Unless that also went this past week. The (man-made) lake has long been drained.

Lesourdsville Lake is now, nothing but a dream, a memory of better days gone by.

Going to introduce myself to a nice box of tissues now.

David Bowers
Mayor, Coasterville
My Blog ->

Tuesday, August 16, 2011 12:14 AM
CoasterDemon's avatar

I never rode the Screechin' Eagle when it had seat dividers. Only lap bars, I don't remember there being seat belts either.

The last year I rode it - probably 1993, they added homemade headrests to the back of each car. What was particularly odd was that there were no seat dividers, and the ride op instructed us to 'sit on that side' if you were alone; basically, telling you to sit where the head rest would be behind your head.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011 8:00 AM

I remember one belt in some trains in the 90s but not before that. I never remember riding with a ratcheting lap bar. Always buzz bars.
The Burgandy train was reposessed by CCI for payment on the work they had done to it. Somehow, someway they came up with a way to put PTC bodys on the Spare NAD chassis that were part of the old 50's style train. (Most simular would be the Century Flyer at Camden) But the old train had a silver and orange paint scheme

Don't know when they changed it but it used to Unload prior to the load area and there was a ramp you went down. Then they moved the train forward to the load area. Always festival first in line, first pick seating.

If you remember, The station was really wide. There was a parking track on the back side, It and the 50s style train were damaged in the lift hill fire (Late 80s?)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011 8:03 AM

Thanks Coasterville Dave for your memories of the Screechin' Eagle. I operated the Screechin' Eagle, then the Space Rocket, from 1967 to 1976. We had two National Amusement Device Trains with headlights. I also did maintenance on the ride in the winters. The lift hill was 70 feet high from the top of the track to the ground. We measured it. The first dip was about 12 feet from the ground and the second dip about 10 feet from the ground. All the rest of the dips went down to ground level. When the coaster was mover to LeSourdsville around 1940 it had an extra hill coming back to the station where the level section was. I heard there was an accident on that hill so they removed it and put in that curved level section of track. When I started working on the Space Rocket, a.k.a. Screechin' Eagle, all of the walkboard needed replacing. About 90 percent of the walkboard was old track boards that were reused as walkboard. When originally installed at LeSourdsville, the ride had two trains and ran two trains but the trains were only two car trains and were very light so the track didn't have to be very strong to support those light cars. The track was made of 8 layers of wood. Six 2x6's and two 2x8's. The heavy 3 car NAD trains we were running really required a much stronger track so when we replaced some of the track periodically, we would increase the size of the wood we put back in the track. We only had one death on the Space Rocket which occurred in 1973 I believe when one of the riders was standing up in the front seat and was thrown out of the train. If you sat in your seat and behaved yourself there is no way you would fall out of that coaster even with all the pops of air-time it had. Probably the most air was in the back seat coming off the back turn. The drop off the back turn was really sudden and you could fly up out of your seat at least 8 or more inches but you came right back down immediately in the bottom of the next dip. Speaking of that dip, as the train came out of that dip and up the hill, over the years the train actually pushed that hill over to the right about a foot. So when you looked at the hill while walking the track you could see that hill leaning toward the Great Miami River. We called that hill, "The Leaning Tower". By the way, the turnaround on the coaster was about 20 feet from the banks of the Great Miami River. Most of our maintenance problems on the coaster was that second hill, or the hill after the lift hill because it had that right turn going down into the next dip. There was a lot of side pressure on the track going down that turn and the side friction steel really took a beating. Where the hills were straight, we had little or no problems with them. Most of your problems with tracks are found in the side friction steel on the curves. That's why tracks have to be banked so severly to prevent lateral G forces because wood tracks can't take much lateral G forces. They are designed to take tremendous Positive G forces, not lateral.

Also while I'm on track work, most of the wood in the coaster was original wood up until the late 1990's when they replaced all the structural wood in the roller coaster. So the wood in the Screechin' Eagle was not very old, just about 8 years old when the coaster stopped running in 2003. There are many wood coasters today with wood that's 20 and 30 and 40 years old wood in them. So the Screechin Eagle really was not that old when they tore it down. To get the ride running again probably would have required a lot of work on the steel which probably had rusted since they didn't put any grease on it during the winters it wasn't running. The structure of the ride, in my opinion, was still good. Probably needed a little track work in the dips also. But the coaster could have been brought back to life.

If you want to ride the Screechin' Eagle go to YouTube or if you have the NO LIMITS roller coaster simulator, go to and download my recreation of it. My log in name is Trackwalker. It's probably one of my best recreations of any coaster since I worked on that ride for nearly 10 years and know every detail about the ride. My model has all hand made structure just like the original coaster. Red handrail, running lights, custom made station exactly like the Space Rocket Station and even a ticket booth under the station just like the real Space Rocket.

Good-bye Screechin' Eagle. We will miss you. But there are a lot more exciting coasters out there now to ride so get to your local amusement park and support your favorite roller coaster with your $$$$$$$$.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011 10:58 PM

Thanks Track Walker for that bit of history :)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011 3:03 AM

You're welcome Charles Nungester.

By the way, when I worked on the roller coaster at LeSourdsville Lake, we had two National Amusement Device trains. Each train had three cars. The lead car had a grill and two headlights which worked after we installed batteries in one of the trains. The trains had no seat belts, no head rests, no seat dividers, no ratcheting lap bars. Each seat only had a single lap bar which locked about 7 or 8 inches above your legs so you had room to move around. We would allow single riders in a seat if we were'nt busy. We would always insist that no more than two riders could ride in a single seat. Why? Because if three big guys tried to fit in a single seat it would push the sides of the train apart and pull the locking pin out of the lap bar during the ride. That's the reason seat dividers were eventually install on all wooden coaster cars, to prevent three people from trying to get into one seat. All the lap bars were hand operated by the operator by flipping a lever on the side of the train which allowed the spring loaded locking pins to go into the lap bar.

We had hand operated squeeze brakes. Each car had two brake shoes which went inside the squeeze brakes. When we pushed the brake handles forward, that opened the brakes and when we pulled the handles backward, toward us, that closed the brakes. The trains were stopped by using two sets of squeeze brakes. The first brake was about 35 feet long and only slowed the train so we could stop it on the second brake using our right hand to control the second brake to bring the train to a smooth stop. To bring the train to a smooth stop, we would push the brake handle forward which slowly opened the brake and let the train stop smoothly, like you do when you stop your car with your foot brake when you come to a traffic light. So the only brake we operated with our hand was the second brake. The first 35 foot brake only slowed the train and was called the "SET BRAKE" because it had to be set at different levels of tightness according to how many people were on the train. If the train were fully loaded, 18 riders, we would have to tighten the set brake so it would slow the train enough, otherwise the train would come in the station too fast and we couldn't stop it on our hand operated second brake and the train would fly through the station and the passengers would cheer because they got a second ride. So the heavier the train, the more brake you had to apply.

Speed of a coaster train is determined by the length of the drop, not the weight of the train. Well, let me qualify that statement a little. Sure, there is friction that slows the train and a heavy load will overcome some of that friction and cause the train to go a little faster. But on the coaster at LeSourdsville, we mopped the track often and most of the time the track was slick and there was practically no friction or squeeling of the wheels as it round the turns. So I timed the train often and when the train left the left hill and came back to the station, the amount of time it took for the train to complete the circuit was the same weather the train was fully loaded or empty. In other words, a fully loaded train did not go any faster than an empty train, that is when the track was oiled and the friction was reduced. Whenever you hear a train making squeeling noises going around a curve, you know the track is dry and needs oil on it.

That's about it. Happy coasting to everybody!


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