4800 Kennywood Boulevard
West Mifflin, Pennsylvania 15122
This park opened in 1898 (as a trolley park) and, in 1987, was
designated a National Historic Landmark. The park features lush
gardens, beautiful fountains and shade trees and is an amazing site
after nightfall. A hometown atmosphere, this is one of America's oldest
existing parks, including a classic collection of rollercoasters in to a
well-preserved, "turn-of-the-century amusement park." This park is
truly a large part of not only coaster history, but American History as
well. This park is attributed to perhaps the world's first "dark ride"
with the old mill, opened in 1902. Even though this park has some sound
footing in the past, it certainly does not "dwell" on it.
(This park is the subject of multiple books by
Charles J. Jacques Jr.)
Rides and Pastimes...
Back in 1921, one of America's top coaster firms (Miller and Baker)
designed this new "high speed coaster." John Miller designed this $50k
coaster in one of the ravines at the side of the park and, by doing so,
used less lumber. The coaster used a new system of wheels over
and under the track in order to allow for the use of a 70-foot double
dip drop (which is still quite a thrill, speaking from personal
experience). In 1947 they removed the tunnel after the first drop and
replaced the original trains with ones built by Ed Vettel (Andy Vettel's
uncle) of West View Park. The entire coaster is 2132 feet long with a
70 foot high lift. The trains feature three-seat cars with a capacity
of eighteen people.
At the time of building (1910), this wooden twin-track racer was the
world's largest. It did not, however, feature trains with wheels
both over and under the track and, as such, required gentle curves. The
new design (by John A. Miller of Miller and Baker) featured these
new wheels and, as such, allowed for banked curves as well as curves on
dips and similiar. The figure eight track is actually a single
2250 foot circuit (so that the trains switch sides every run -- which is
great for those that love racing trains). The lift hill is 72 feet
high and is actually over a ravine (using more lumber) and helped the
cost of this new coaster exceed $75k. The loading platform was also
redesigned in 1946 and the original entrance was restored in 1990.
This woodie was designed by Andy Vettel with a 95 foot lift and a 2887
foot circuit. The ride was built around and incorporated the first and
last drops (and a tunnel) from the old Pippin (1924-1967) designed by
John A. Miller. The ride starts with a drop into a ravine (the same
ravine through-which the Stell Phanton dives on its second drop)
and the coaster actually doesn't reach the lift until halfway through
the ride. For those that would think a coaster is measured by its first
drop -- the final drop on this is something to look forward to at an
astonishing 90 feet.
Laser Loop (1980)
This is an Intamin shuttle loop coaster using a flywheel catapult. The
train accelerates out of the station to 55 miles per hour (in just four
seconds). The ride is 850 feet long and 140 feet high.
This 3000 foot steel coaster from Arrow Dynamics is unlike any other.
The ride features a 160 foot high lift and a second drop of a
hair-raising 225 feet, right over the side of a ravine and through the
middle of Thunderbolt (bringing the train to a world record speed
of 80 miles per hour). The second drop is followed by a heart-pounding
(some say head-pounding) four inversions (a vertical loop, a
boomerang and a corkscrew). All of this is just a minute and forty five
seconds long. (Although some accuse this ride of being rather rough, I
think that one needs to "learn" how to ride it before completely
enjoying the pure arenaline rush from this beast -- and, yes, after a
half dozen or more rides I did end up with a bruise on my shoulder)
Copyright © 1996-2003 Russell M. Van Tassell
All Rights Reserved.