Sunday, June 29, 2014

Logger's Revenge (1977)

For over 100 years the family owned Santa Cruz Sentinel faithfully reported on goings-on in the area, with particular emphasis on items of local interest like surfing and agriculture, so it's natural that they would proudly report on activity at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk, which opened in 1907.

Today we're looking at a particularly large and lavishly photographed 1977 article by Dale Pollock, detailing the construction of the Logger's Revenge flume ride, which opened that season.

It is interesting to note that the Morgan mentioned in the article is Ed's son Dana, who had left Arrow in 1974 to became the general manager of the Boardwalk. When Huss purchased Arrow from RGI in 1981, Dana was appointed president of Arrow-Huss. Two years later, he would start D. H. Morgan Manufacturing. DHM's first order was to build new trains for the Boardwalk's Giant Dipper Roller Coaster.

The article also mentions that there were forty other Arrow flume rides at amusement parks around the world, so the break from Disney hadn't hurt cash flow too much over the previous several years.

Additionally, in November of 1977, Arrow would announce their plans to produce a whole new type of ride; the suspended roller coaster, the first of which was The Bat at King's Mountain, so the little Arrow train still had plenty of steam left in her. (The article's proclamation of the death of the Wild Mouse, which ran from 1958 to 1976, was a bit premature, as Wild Mouse style coasters would continue their runs at Santa Cruz, at least thru 2014.)

More than 24,000 gallons of water per minute will flow thru the fiberglass flume set atop steel pillars 55 feet above the beach.

Santa Cruz Sentinel - Thursday January 27, 1977

A Million Dollar Splash

Logger’s Revenge Taking Shape at the Boardwalk

Sentinel Staff Writer

The Wild Mouse is dead. Long live the Logger’s Revenge!

Rather than a fantasy from "Alice in Wonderland,” the above slogan might serve to announce the fact that the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk has a new ride, an expensive flume contraption that will cause a $1 million splash.

The Logger’s Revenge will take patrons on a wild and wooly trip 55 feet above the beach, riding a jet stream of water coming out at the rate of 24,000 gallons per minute.

To add to the verisimilitude of the experience, a replica of an old saw mill will be used as the loading platform, and the boats themselves resemble huge hollowed-out logs, albeit made of fiberglass and foam padding.

“We feel this will be a real natural for this area with its logging history’, observed Dana Morgan, supervising the 27 construction workers who are busy completing the ride for its April 1 grand opening.

The decision is never as easy as saying, “Let’s have a new ride,” explained Don Theobald of the Seaside Company.  There are 40 editions of the logger’s ride at amusement parks around the world, all manufactured by the Arrow Development Company of Mountain View.

A replica of an old Santa Cruz Sawmill begins to take shape at the Boardwalk 
"It has been the largest volume ride at Marriott’s Great America,” Theobald admits, but he stresses that the Boardwalk has been eying the attraction for some time, especially as the wild mouse was turning gray after 18 years.

Morgan, who used to work for the Arrow ride wizards, points out that no two of the logger rides are the same.  The Boardwalk is also distinguishing it’s version with the realistically-furnished sawmill, which will have a working 14-foot water wheel, and a heap of logging artifacts, thanks to the advice of Bud McCrary from Big Creek Luber.

Its the ride itself that grabs the boardwalkers, of course, and the flume experience should be one they will not easily forget.  The log boats will leave every 10 seconds on their twisting path up the fiberglass flume, which towers above the beach on heavy steel supports.

That means over 1300 riders per hour who will ride the 2 1/2 minute excursion, from the rough-hewn station over the Southern Pacific railroad tracks, and then down a perilous 45-foot hill until the logboats  hit the water with a resounding splash.

For all the thrills and chills, both Morgan and Theobald stress that the Logger’s Revenge is a very safe ride.  When loggers would actually ride logs down a flume, it was extremely dangerous,” Theobald notes.  “This ride is extremely safe, since the safety factor is our prime concern.”

Construction has been under way since Oct.15, with giant cranes hoisting the immense support pillars up, along with setting the supports in heavy concrete bases.  All the materials have been painted green to blend with nearby foliage, and Theobald and Morgan proudly cite the fact that nary a tree was cut down to install the ride.

Steelworkers ready the large supports for the fiberglass flume sections.
(Note the distinctive Arrow styling.)

That doesn’t mean there won’t be changes at the Boardwalk with the new attraction. Three other rides had to be adjusted to make room for the newcomer. Now the Cave Trains will wind their way around the basement support pillars, while th eAuto-Rama will have a few poles to navigate around, too.

The water is what makes the flume ride work and this particular model has a reservoir built into it that will hold 60,000 gallons of water, constantly filtered and recycled.  Two 250 horsepower pumps will push the water up the flume, at which point gravity takes over to circulate the liquid propulsion and return it to the reservoir.

The boats are actually  slowed down by their impact into the water at the end of the 45 foot drop, where a large pond will be constructed to catch the overflow.  Electronic controls will make sure the boats don’t run into one another and there’s even a trouble-shooter to check the troubleshooting equipment.

The major difficulty in setting up a new ride, Morgan relates, is to jibe all the different plans, factors and space limitations.  Almost a year of designs preceded the start of construction, in which “we had to sandwich all the required components together to meed the requirements of capacity and length.”

In other words, there isn’t much room for new rides at the Boardwalk. As Theobald notes, looking up at the the venerable Giant Dipper.  “Now we’ll see if steel and fiberglass will last as long as the Dipper’s wood frame which has been here for 52 years and 21 million rides.”

The Giant Dipper doesn’t have to worry, but the poor Wild Mouse lies dismembered and forgotten in a nearby parking lot.  Now the Logger’s Revenge is the new king, silently waiting for the screams and squeals of its future passengers come April 1.

Santa Cruz Boardwalk Coasters & Flume 2014

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