Thursday, May 19, 2011

A Blast From The Past - Cornball Express at Indiana Beach

So, we have come to the end of the series. Over the next few weeks the Blast will feature the last of the U.S. built 2001 coasters, Cornball Express at Indiana Beach. Living so close to the park, we had the opportunity to visit often and as such have a lot of details and constructions photos.

Back in August of 2000, while chatting with Tom Spackman Jr, we couldn't help but notice a half a dozen ride proposals for their 2001 addition taped up on the wall of the outer office. Among them was an intriguing concept for a family Custom Coaster International (CCI) family coaster.

Like the park's 1994 CCI, the Hoosier Hurricane, this new ride would have a steel structure with wooden track. The new coaster would be approximately 900 feet shorter and would use part of the Hurricane's lift-hill structure, even running through that structure.

We had visited Indiana Beach many times and knew the park very well. But looking at the design, it was hard to imagine it would actually fit, without removing any rides. But, it sounded like a great fit for the park and Indiana would be adding another CCI woodie.

In November Indiana Beach officially unannounced CCI would indeed be building that family coaster at Indiana Beach, which would open in May of 2001. Several names had been kicked around, including “Cornball Express,” which had been the original choice for the Hoosier Hurricane. Since the Hurricane is considered a “Thrill Ride,” the name didn’t seem to fit. But, it does sound like a good name for a family coaster!

CCI designers, Larry Bill and Chad Miller tweaked their original design and Cornball Express was born. Surveying and site clearing began almost immediately and by the time we made our first construction visit in early December 2000, the first footers had been poured and crews were pounding in pilings for more footers. Orange cones marked the track layout and Tom Spackman Jr. spent an hour walking us around the site and trying to explain how everything would fit!

Our second visit, toward the end of December, showed little progress. All but one of the “water” pilings where in place, but construction had been slow due to the weather. The lake had frozen over and the ground as well, so after air hammering through concrete, workers were also having to air hammer through one to two feet of frozen soil. The “land” pilings were being driven in 27 – 35 feet and the “water” pilings 65 feet.

Our first visit of 2001 showed a great deal of progress had been made. Workers were focusing on the 3rd hill, which hugs around the Tig’rr (Schwarzkopf jet star.) A good portion of the steel for this hill was in place and some wooden spreaders were seen on the structure over the Maintenance B building.

Our early February visit showed the 3rd drop was really beginning to take shape. Most of the steel, spreaders walk boards and handrails were in place and the drop had even started to climb into the 4th hill. Work had started on the lift hill, with steel supports and spreaders popping up right next to the Hurricane. The color combination had been selected for the PTC train, yellow with black trim, but no decision had been made on the logo.

Speaking of logos, here's an early concept, that was used, after some revisions, mainly for souvenirs. The fact that corn doesn't grow up-side down was lost on the oriental artist. Even though we are just getting started on Cornball Express, the Blast will be taking next week off. We will be trekking off to the opening of a 2011 coaster, So please check in Thursday evening for a report.