Wednesday, February 01, 2017

More Vintage Postcards From Six Flags Over Texas

Ken Martinez has shared five previous posts featuring postcards from Six Flags Over Texas, and they have been very popular. Here's another one!

Six Flags Over Texas Part 6 – The U.S.A. Section and Boomtown

In previous postcard posts about Six Flags over Texas, Mexico, Spain, France, the Confederacy and the Republic of Texas were covered.  In today’s post the U.S.A and Boomtown sections will be featured.

The U.S.A. section of Six Flags over Texas was to represent modern Texas and the last of the original six sections in 1961 featured in the articles posted here.  In the modern section were exhibit halls featuring exhibits by Eastman Kodak, Westinghouse, Braniff Airlines and other various corporations.   In addition there was the “Missile Chaser” (Scrambler ride) and the “Happy Motoring Freeway”.  The Happy Motoring Freeway was a turnpike ride sponsored by the Humble Oil Company.   Designed and built by Arrow Development, a second track was opened a year later in 1962 to accommodate increasing popularity of the turnpike attraction.  The USA section was also the site of the Astrolift sky ride.  The Happy Motoring Freeway is now gone and only the Chaparral Antique Autos in the Texas section remain.

Animal Kingdom was also a part of the U.S.A. section and featuring friendly animals that guests could touch like donkeys, cows and goats.  The most famous animal in this exhibit was “Sis Flagg” an baby Asian elephant who had to be switched out every two years due to baby elephants quick growth.  

Boomtown was the first entirely new theme area created after Six Flags opened with its original six themed areas inspired by the Six Flags that flew over Texas.  Here is what I believe was the entrance into the new area.  Left nearly out of view is the parks original carousel which later moved to the entrance and dead ahead the Sky Crane Ride.

Upon the opening of Boomtown in1963, the 190 foot tall Sky Crane Ride was the main attraction of the new section in the park.  The ride had previously operated at the Brussels World’s Fair in 1958. It operated at Six Flags Over Texas until 1968 when it as dismantled and moved to the newly built Six Flags over Georgia where it operated until 1977.

The Arrow Runaway Mine Train was the first custom coaster built for a Six Flags park.  Utilizing the tube railing developed for Disneyland’s Matterhorn Bobsleds, this coaster would become a theme staple like the log flume for year to come.  Here we see it in its final plunge to go under Lake Caddo before heading back into the station.

Hope you all enjoyed your visit to Six Flags Over Texas!   More to come!

Information Source material:
Six Flags Over Texas: The First Fifty Years, Davis McGowan, Copyright 2016

A big THANK YOU as always to Ken Martinez!


Nanook said...


I remember riding that Runaway Mine Train back in the day; but the Sky Crane ride was long gone by the time I visited the park.

Thanks, Ken, for more great images.

TokyoMagic! said...

I always wanted to ride the Sky Crane ride at the Pike in Long Beach, CA, but never did. :-(

What did Six Flags do with the baby elephants once they got too big? I hope they went on to have long and happy lives!

Thanks for sharing these, Ken!

Stu29573 said...

I rode the Runaway Mine Train many times in my youth! The ride was modified and shortened at some point, but the final plunge UNDER the lake is still there. All in all, it's a great coaster.

Unknown said...

Thanks for the Southwestern fun, Ken. Were the balls o' guests on the Sky Crane used on whatever demolition was current? Or was it a trip up to some dizzying heights and a good view? Yee-hah!

Chuck said...

I had completely forgotten about the underwater tunnel! Great stuff, Ken. Thanks again!

Clyde Hughes said...

Hi Ken, and thanks for sharing more great postcards! Your great SFOT postcards really take me back.

By the time I first visited Six Flags Over Texas, in 1976, the Sky Hook had been replaced by the Oil Derrick (Intamin Oil Derrick tower), but the uniqueness of the Sky Hook made me wish I'd been around to see it, as I saw it on the older park maps, etc.
There are a few great video clips of this Sky Hook and another, by the way. After the Sky Hook was removed from Six Flags Over Texas, it was moved to Six Flags Over Georgia, where it stayed for a number of years. If you watch the popular 1970s truck driving show, “Movin’ On,” starring Claude Akins and Frank Converse, there is an episode from the second season entitled “The Old South Will Rise Again,” which is centered around a hot air balloon race held at Six Flags Over Georgia. There are several shots of the Sky Hook in operation, and the entire episode is a wonderful glimpse into the park in the 70s. Also, it was much like the Texas park at the time, so there are a few comparisons. You can see that on Hulu.
The other SkyHook example is in an episode of Emergency, in which the paramedics rescue a rider from one of the two SkyHook baskets. Pretty thrilling and great views of this ride… even views of the mechanical aspects, etc. Here are 7 screenshots from that episode.

Clyde Hughes said...

Ken, your great and descriptive mentioning of the carousel made me wonder where it was at that time… Here’s another great view of the SkyHook and the Boomtown area, including the carousel, smaller oil derrick, train, etc. The Runaway Mine Train would have been crossing the railroad track in the far right corner, so this photo would’ve been prior to its construction.

That last post card brings back some great memories! The Runaway Mine Train was awe inspiring when I first rode it, and since then, especially since it is so well themed. When I first rode it, I had never encountered tubular steel tracks, and that, combined with the creative use of timbers in the trestles, as well as the use of the natural landscape/creek area, with tall grasses and trees, made this ride a masterpiece. I wrote to designer Ron Toomer, c/o Arrow, back in 2011, shortly before he passed away, asking about what changes were made to the ride early on. I had heard that it was quite a bit different during the first couple of seasons.
Ron told me of the modifications made to the ride after its first season.
He said: “we made a few mods after the first season… people complained because the ride was too bumpy. After the second lift hill, the ride initially made a left turn, out/back, banked hard to the left, under the ‘out’ track, and then along the fence, where it went over a series of bunny hops/speed bumps, before a hard bank to the right, under the second lift hill, under the train tracks, and right, to the saloon/third lift hill.
Our mods eliminated the hard left turn under the ‘out’ track, all of the bunny hops, etc., making the ‘back’ track go straight to the third lift hill (under the second lift hill and railroad track).
There were a lot of complaints about the change – the public preferred those bunny hops/speed bumps, as it turned out, so we cancelled all further mods.
Hope this helps,
Also, I recall that Sid and Marty Krofft were hired to re-theme parts of the park in 1968, and it was great! You might expect Puff’n’stuff all over the park, but, no, they were deeper than that. There were some great additions made to the park, including an impressive working volcano in the Mexico section, and a cave with a ‘waterfall window’ through which the Runaway Mine Train sped, after the second lift hill.

Thanks again, Ken!

K. Martinez said...

Nanook, By the time I got to SFOT a lot of the early stuff was already gone when I got there too.

TokyoMagic!, Here's Sissy's story (baby elephant):

Stuart Powley, I had no idea that the Runaway Mine Train was shortened. Thanks for that bit of info.

Patrick Devlin, As long as I'm padded, I'd be all in for a wrecking ball ride.

Chuck, That's what I like about coming here to GDB. Those deep filed long forgotten memories come right back.

Clyde Hughes, Wow!! That's some great information you shared there. I'll have to check out the Emergency! episode. Thanks for sharing your response from Ron Toomer. It's more history I had no idea about. Ron did design some awesome steel coasters back in the day. Stay tuned for more SOFT postcards. I will share a couple cards featuring the Fiesta Train volcano and Runaway Mine Train waterfall you mentioned.

Glad you all enjoyed!

Anonymous said...

This is very cool. I had no idea that any of this existed. Thank you Ken and Major and everyone who shared memories. Just a great start to the day.


TokyoMagic! said...

Clyde, I almost mentioned that "Emergency" Episode that was filmed at the Long Beach Pike!

Ken, that article was making me feel pretty bad about that poor little elephant, but another link at the end of the article made me feel better. It appears that she is living out her "retirement" in an elephant sanctuary in Tennessee and that her golden years have consisted of much happier times for her. Thanks for that link. Here's the additional one that tells about her life today in the sanctuary.

K. Martinez said...

JG, Glad you enjoyed it!

TokyoMagic!, Thanks for the follow up link. It was nice to read about the positive outcome. Elephants are truly special in that they form strong social bonds of companionship and family. They're truly wonderful creatures.

Mark H. Besotted said...

Thanks for the info on that TV episode. I can add it to my list of things filmed at SFOG (Funland, the last Vacation movie, and some weird knockoff local kiddie video I found on YouTube).
I had no idea there even was such a show, but it's a nice (if brief) time capsule of the park back then.
I watched on this link, which didn't require a Hulu signup:

As always, thanks to Ken for his amazing collection and the Major for hosting this fantastic community.