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The Riverview Bobs - EXCELSIOR, YOU FATHEAD!

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April 3rd, 2008


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02:14 pm - The Riverview Bobs
The Riverview Park Bobs was quite possibly the best roller coaster ever built. Or so we in this generation have been told. It was built for Chicago's Riverview Park in 1924 by Prior & Church, two of the leading coaster designers of their day, and constructed by Harry Traver's firm (Traver himself did not design the ride, but for years it was assumed he had. He was a nut, that Harry Traver.)

The Bobs wasn't all that tall; it topped out at only 87 feet. But it made for an incredible ride. The laterals were fierce, the track was twisted like you wouldn't believe and the P&C cars of their day were little more than padded chariots with a single lapbar. Danger, danger, danger... and yet, kids loved it.

Riverview Park was closed and ignobly demolished in 1967. It's a parking lot today. You'd never have known what awesome stuff was there if you saw it.

Recreations of the Bobs exist for the NoLimits coaster simulator and they're fun and all, but today I found the best goddamn on-ride footage I've ever seen of the ride. I'd seen someone's home movie, I think, but it shook so much you couldn't really tell what was going on. Apparently this bit of footage was taken by a Chicago television station for Movietone News, which was able to securely mount a camera to the front car. The ride footage turns out really, really, really smooth and shows just how powerful the damn thing was. I can see how it'd have easily garnered claims of the best; its layout, speed, thrills and unexpected dives make it a far more exciting ride than the Coney Island Cyclone, which to me right now is the paragon of still-standing wooden coasters.

It's a shame you probably couldn't get away with a coaster like the Bobs today. The insurance would prohibit it. But at least we can ride it on the Internet. Or work on our time machines.

(9 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


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From:redtheblue
Date:April 3rd, 2008 06:49 pm (UTC)
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My heart raced watching that. Damn.
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[User Picture]
From:derspatchel
Date:April 4th, 2008 02:58 pm (UTC)
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There was a coaster at Adventureland, just east of Des Moines, who didn't even bother with hinged or padded lapbars. One metal bar stretched across the car for your sole "safety" needs. No lap belts, either, as of the mid-90s.

Ah, yes, Bill Cobb's Tornado. When I rode it in 1999 and 2000, they were still using the single-position "buzz bars" and the rides were pretty goddamn wild. I'm not sure what they've got there now.
[User Picture]
From:puddnhead
Date:April 4th, 2008 12:36 am (UTC)
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Dude, that's about three blocks from where I used to live. My mom used to take the Western bus up to Riverview from Englewood when she was growing up. She hates coasters though, so no chance of a first hand account.
[User Picture]
From:pecosy
Date:April 4th, 2008 03:22 am (UTC)
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Wow, once things get going there are no slow spots at all. It does look like a coaster you could ride all day.

I assume the Bobs refer to the ups and downs, because I can't get these guys out of my head:

[User Picture]
From:wahhappen
Date:April 7th, 2008 05:20 pm (UTC)
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Wow. Amazing. I've been curious about that coaster for years. Thanks for posting! :)
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From:mohead
Date:April 8th, 2008 08:26 pm (UTC)
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Actually that is footage from a Movietone news reel that they used to show at theaters. A better not-so-jumpy version can be found on "Riverview-Kingdom of Magic"
[User Picture]
From:derspatchel
Date:April 9th, 2008 11:25 pm (UTC)
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Ah, it figures that it'd be a newsreel bit instead of TV footage.

I'm also beginning to think that the film was sped up a bit, at least in parts. Otherwise that's the fastest damn lift hill I've ever seen.

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