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construction process

Catch a Fading Star

The Leap-The-Dips hasn't run since 1985. Workers began construction on the 96-year old wooden roller coaster in February 1997. Rather than simply rebuilding the wooden structure from scratch, workers have been carefully replacing all parts of the coaster with the old structure still in place, a true restoration.

When construction began, the coaster laid in 2 feet of mud and water. Early phases of the construction work involved drainage, where 100 feet of drain line was installed, and reconstructing concrete footers that support the world's oldest wooden coaster. Originally the coaster was only supported by the ground, installing the concrete footers was the only new stipulation that had to be followed in restoring the coaster. Fifty-five percent of the old wood is being used in restoration.

A million dollar renovation began with carpenters sawing supports and tightening bolts to brace the coaster's beams. On the ground beneath its three-tier track lay cords of air-dried white oak and yellow-pine, poised to restore the coaster's strength and resilience. Restoration was started on the side of the coaster closest to the station house. The station house has been refurbished with all of the original wood with the exception of a new floor. Seven of the 10 original cars have been found, and one already has been restored to a lustrous maroon, its supple leather seat covers secured by shiny brass tacks. New floor supports and flooring for the loading station have been installed, and new wooden uprights and crossbeams to form the coaster's structure are being set into place, each one replacing the deteriorating (or missing) wooden pieces of the old structure. Finally, new track layers and side-rails will be installed upon the new supports. Wood for the track itself must be replaced because it's not safe. The roof of the loading station is in good condition and will be kept as its original state. The only thing needing done to the roof will be the installation of vents and painting. Roofing for the cupola, as well as machinery for the lift and brakes will be installed. The original chain is in good shape and will be used on the incline. The incline portion and gear house will be the final phase of construction. As of November 1, 1998, forty-five percent of the project is complete. While no exact date has been set for the reopening of the Leap-the-Dips, the Foundation is confident that the coaster will be in operation sometime in May 1999.

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