Thursday, February 18, 2010

A Blast From The Past - The Tolchester Switchback

Opening in 1877, Tolchester Beach was a popular resort on the eastern shore of the Chesapeake Bay. The ten acre resort include a few concessions, a bath house, a hand propelled merry-go-round, and a hand organ pulled by a goat. Millions of Maryland residents enjoyed family picnics, church outings and moonlight excursions to the park by steamboat. As many as twenty-thousand guests visited Tolchester on the peak weekends.

In its prime, Tolchester expanded to 155 acres and was serviced by six steamers and a ferry. Visitors stayed at the hotel which was located on the top of the bluff and offered a wonderful view of Chesapeake Bay. Entertainment included a dance hall, bowling alleys, a bingo parlor, a roller skating rink, the whip, dodgems, pony and goat carts, boat rides, a miniature steam train and a roller coaster.

The coaster was one of the many LA Thompson Switchbacks that were on the cutting edge of technology at the turn of the 20th century. Much like the Arrow shuttle loopers, riders climbed up a flight of stairs to board a large bench like coaster car. The car was pushed out of the station, it went down a hill over some bunny hills and coasted some 600ft to another tower all at the blazing speed of approx. 6 MPH. At the second tower the car was "switched back around and riders returned to the first tower making the Switchback the first ever full circuit roller coaster

As for Tolchester Beach the park closed in 1962, After eighty five years of thrills, the property was sold off for redevelopment.


BnM Lover said...

excellent post.

as a native Marylander and having spent many summers on the easetern shore, I had no idea that this park ever existed.