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The Oldest Coaster

June 2024
1min read


Built in 1894, Lakemont Park in Altoona, Pennsylvania, is the eighth-oldest amusement park in the country—and it contains a noble relic: the oldest wooden roller coaster in the world. The Leap-the-Dips, built in 1902 by the Philadelphia Carousel Company, is a side-friction figure-eight, for many years the classic coaster configuration. Season after season for eighty-three years, the chain would haul the two-seater cars to the ride’s fortyone-foot zenith, then release them to glide along 1,470 feet of track at a decorous pace that never topped ten miles per hour. In 1985 the ride, already ancient by coaster standards, closed down.

Fortunately, however, it remained standing, and today the veteran is undergoing a million-dollar renovation that will have it working by next summer—in plenty of time for the Leap-the-Dips to rattle into its centenary.

—Larry McKee

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