Thursday, June 17, 2010

A Blast From The Past - Knoebel's High Speed Coaster

Opening in 1955, the High Speed Thrill Coaster operated through the end of the 2008 season. During the off-season the ride was removed from the park's website, pretty much sealing it's fate.

Knoebel's owner, Dick Knoebel admitted that after 53 years of thrilling guests the ride was worn out. In late December of 2008 deconstruction began and continued through January 2009.

The High Speed Thrill Coaster was the first roller coaster built at Knoebels and the last operating coaster from the Overland Amusement Company of Saugus, Massachusetts.

High Speed Thrill Coaster's layout had an 18ft lift hill followed by a diving 180 degree turn which dropped an incredible 12 ft. Several airtime bunny hills followed, with another 180 degree turn that returned you to the station. A "ride" could consist of several laps or several dozen laps, depending on the line or the ride operator.

While it was originally a small ride intended for children, it was quite a wild when run at full speed, which happened during Knoebel's Phall Phun Phest, as well as most of the time during regular park hours.

It featured a six-cylinder Chevrolet engine converted to run on propane gas with a top speed of 40 mph so it really only looked like a kiddie coaster. The fact that the trains were junior size added to the coaster's wild nature. The ride was manually operated, the only controls were a large clutch lever to engage and disengage the engine from the lift chain, a large brake lever that controlled the station brake, and a small throttle lever to control the engine's speed.