Thursday, August 4, 2011

A Blast From The Past - Beech's Bends Kentucky Rumbler Pt1

Beech Bend Park's in Bowling Green Kentucky began as a picnic park in 1898, the park's name comes from a bend in the nearby Barren River that happened to have beech trees scattered along it's banks. In the early 1940s Charles Garvin purchased the park property and began adding amusements. First was a pony ride, followed by a roller skating rink, dance hall, bowling center, and swimming pool. Shortly after WWII Garvin added rides and racing, first with motorcycles, then auto racing. The same oval track is still used today. The drag strip was added in 1960.

Dallas and Alfreda Jones purchased the racetracks in 1984 and began hosting national drag racing events sanctioned by the National Hot Rod Association. The NHRA events were successful and in 1987 the couple bought the land where the long forgotten amusement park once sat. The Jones' began to clear out the park area and renovate the campground in the early 1990s. They reopened the pool and then gradually began adding amusement park rides.

The park seemed to blossom as the new Millennium arrived. Between 2000 and 2005 many improvements were made and many additions were added to the park. By the end of 2005 there were 40 rides rides, 500 campground spaces with modern amenities, renovated racing facilities, a water park, and large picnic pavilions. But...still something seemed to be missing.

Many small family owned parks seem to rapidly climb the lift hill to success with the addition of a wooden roller coaster. Making the investment is a difficult decision and often involves making huge sacrifices, such as mortgaging the park or putting off purchasing a beach house.

The Jones family started taking about adding a wooden roller coaster to their park years before the Kentucky Rumbler was built. At the time Custom Coasters was going strong, but Dallas Jones wasn't ready to put all his eggs in one was just a matter of timing.

When Jones decided the time was right CCI was no longer an option, but he had already decided that Great Coasters International was a better fit for the park anyway. He was impressed by GCI's more park friendly, hands on approach to doing business.

Great Coasters International offers well built rides with minimal maintenance for park, a very smooth ride for the guest and service after the. GCII is also a firm dedicated to preserving the old fashion fun a wooden coaster offers.

Now Vice President of Sales & Design Jeff Pike started working for GCII straight out of college, under the tutelage of Mike Boodley. Jeff soon proved himself as a very talented and creative designer. The Kentucky Rumbler was Jeff's first solo design.

The highlights of the ride, an unprecedented three station fly-bys and an exciting aeroplane style first drop show-off Jeff's creativeness and pay homage to classic rides of the past. In short, Kentucky Rumbler is a ride that appeals to the young and the young at heart!

Tune in next week for part two of the story!