Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Vintage Postcards - Riverside Park

It's time for PART 26 in the ongoing series of vintage amusement park postcards from the collection of Ken Martinez! Wow, that's a lot of stuff... with more to come. Today is a shorter post than usual, but I think you'll agree that it is particularly interesting. Here's Ken:

Mine Trains and Monorails -
Riverside Park, Agawam, Massachusetts

Riverside Park was a traditional park that started out as a picnic grove called Riverside Grove before becoming Riverside Park in the early 1900's. The park was eventually purchased by Premier Parks (Six Flags) in 1996.

Here's the El Dorado Mine Train at the park with the Thunderbolt coaster in the backdrop. I love this postcard because it so strongly resembles the Mine Train Ride at Disneyland with the Rainbow Ridge load area. Even the mining cars are the same color as the Rainbow Caverns Mine Train. Apparently a fire destroyed the attraction sometime in 1971 and put the coaster in the background out of commission for a while.

Another ride familiar to Disneyland fans is the Monorail. I think I'll call this one Monorail Pink. In addition there was a Jungle river ride similar to Disneyland's called "Jungle Cruise" complete with mechanical animals and candy striped canopy launches. To top it off there was also a steam riverboat. Who needs Nara Dreamland when we had Riverside Park right here in the good ol' U.S.A.

Riverside Park now operates as "Six Flags New England", a modern theme park which means it has survived. At least the park and its classic Thunderbolt (oldest operating coaster at a Six Flags theme park) are still in operation. Let's hope it doesn't meet the same fate as Geauga Lake which later became Six Flags Ohio and then was sold to Cedar Fair before closing. Hope you enjoyed today's post.

Information Source material:
Funland U.S.A. copyright 1978 by Tim Onosko
Roller Coaster Database

Thanks Ken! I love seeing these Disneyland clones. As Ken pointed out to me in an email, Disney certainly took inspiration from other parks (and World's Fairs) too. Maybe we'll see some of those in future posts.


TokyoMagic! said...

These are trippy. It's Alternate Universe Disneyland! Who needs Nara Dreamland, indeed!

Mark H. Besotted said...

That's amazing! I can't believe how blatant that is.

Once we get that time machine running, I'm gonna make some side trips to these places...

Alonzo P Hawk said...

It looks like in this alternate universe their version of Bob Gurr really had to cut some corners on quality, fit an finish. That monorail almost looks like the backyard ride on model a guy in northern cali made.

I concur, nice job on the mine train buildings though.

Did they have knock off churros too?

All in all these are very cool to see the contrast. Thanks for sharing Ken.

Nancy said...

Beautiful! "Rainbow Ridge" indeed. If not for the title Riverside Park, I would so believe that was Disneyland. At a quick glance, the white wood coaster blends into the sky pretty easily.

Monorail Pink.....awesome!

K. Martinez said...

TokyoMagic!, I always get a kick out of discovering new "Nara Dreamlands" and being a Disneyland geek, I've been to many Alternate Universe Disneylands in my pre-awakening hours.

Mark H. Besotted, "I can't believe how blatant that is!" That's what I thought when I first rode Splash Mountain. It's slicker and glossier than Knott's Timber Mountain Log Ride, but Disney did heavily borrow from the Knott's attraction.

Alonzo P. Hawk, Glad you enjoyed. What I find interesting is the name of the ride "El Dorado Mine Train" as that's the name of the hotel in the original Disneyland Rainbow Ridge. And I love that homemade monorail the East Bay resident built in his backyard.

Nancy, It's always good to hear from you. I remember when first discovering the Riverside Park mine train postcard, I had to do a double take as I first thought it to be Disneyland.

Mark H. Besotted said...

Ken, of course you're right, and I appreciate that Tony Baxter is, to my knowledge, always honest about the creative debt to Knott's. (As an East-Coaster, I've never yet made it to Knott's, but it's on my list, mostly for Timber Mountain and the Calico Mine.)

I kinda wish I could see the whole of the Riverside Mine Train ride, to keep comparing it with the Disneyland version. Chalk it up to me being spoiled by the huge swaths of info I get here, and other similarly-inclined places.