Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Blast From The Past - Lakemont Park's Skyliner

Founder and original owner, William Muar opened Lakeside Park in 1925, along the north shore of Canandaigua Lake in Canandaigua, New York with a dance hall and a few rides, The dance hall was named "Roseland" after the Roseland Ballroom in New York City. Three years later that name had become such an integral part of the park's identity, Lakeside Park became Roseland Park.

As the years passed the park changed, new attractions replaced aging ones. A Ferris wheel,bumper cars, a miniature train, sky ride and the Carousel, which was purchased from the defunct Long Branch amusement park, in 1941.

In 1959, construction began on the park's signature attraction, The Skyliner. Designed by John Allen and built by PTC, this double out and back had a track length of 2400 feet, and a maximum height of 60 feet. While the Skyliner wasn't the first coaster Allen designed, it was his first major roller coaster. It's interesting to note PTC operated the Skyliner as a concession for a number of years.

On September 2, 1985 after a quarter century of thrilling riders, the Skyliner and Roseland Park closed. Two weeks later, all of the park's remains were auctioned off. Little of the old park remains in Canandaigua, a housing development now occupies the site. Although Roseland Park has been defunct for many years, the name still exists in the form of a waterpark.

Two of the park's most notable rides survived, Philadelphia Toboggan Company's carousel No. 18, originally built in 1909, was purchased at the auction for $397,500 by the Pyramid Companies of Syracuse, New York. It was refurbished and restored to its original colors. And, on October 15, 1990 installed at the Carousel Center Mall in Syracuse.

The Skyliner was purchased by Lakemont Park in Altoona Pennsylvania, the move was done by the Dinn Corporation, using the same crew that relocated Knoebel's Phoenix. At the time, enthusiasts were worried the Skyliner would suffer from the move. Dinn Corp's goal in all their relocation's wasn't to "tune them up" or change them, other than replacing bad wood and using all new steel track. They didn't want to mess with a proven ride.

Leonard Adams stated, "the goal was to rebuild them same as possible. At the new location all the ledgers are place in the same relative position, but the whole ride is retracked. Change some angles or hill heights and you play with the speed and forces. And you may end up with a ride that's not runable.

The Skylier was purchased to build up the park after the failed Boyertown USA project. Originally the Skyliner had two trains, but over the years one of the trains has been taken apart for parts. The train has three cars, each with three rows, and each row seats two abreast. Sitting at the edge of Lakemont's property, the Skyliner borders the outfield of the Blair County Ballpark, home of the Altoona Curve.

At 50, the Skyliner is a relatively new coaster, considering Lakemont is home to Leap The Dips, the oldest roller coaster in the world. Even after a half a century the Skyliner is running great!


strwrse1 said...

I can't believe I've been riding this for 25 years & never new its history. Thanks for this story. This is why I visit every day, to learn something new about my favorite things.

Frank82 said...

Leap the dips is the oldest roller coaster in the world, not just the US.

Joanne said...

I wonder how many can say they've ridden the Skyliner at Roseland AND Lakemont? I know of two people who have.