Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Vintage Postcards - A Classic 'Coaster

Steve Stuart ("Nanook") is back! Actually he never went away, I just twiddled my thumbs like an ungrateful thumb twiddler after he was kind enough to scan some vintage postcards and provide a nice historical writeup. My excuse is that there is just a bit of chaos right now. Plus I love to take 10 to 12 cat naps each day, usually while driving.

Steve's subject today is the wonderful beachside amusement park (long gone), the "Cyclone Racer" from the Long Beach Pike! Here's Steve:

Here are two images of the Cyclone Racer roller coaster, which was a fixture at The Pike [& Nu-Pike] in Long Beach, California from 1930 to 1968.  It was designed by Fred Church and Harry Traver.  Fred Church designed the wonderful Giant Dipper coasters at Belmont Park, San Diego and Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, Santa Cruz.  Harry Traver is revered amongst coaster aficionados for designing some of the most intense roller coasters, long before any sort of steel, tubular designs were ever imagined.  None more so than the Crystal Beach Cyclone, which opened in 1927, at Crystal Beach Amusement Park (naturally) in Ontario, Canada.  To hear Harry Traver tell it:  "Everybody's equal on a roller coaster. They all shriek at the same time."

When the Cyclone Racer opened in Long Beach on May 30, 1930 - Memorial Day - it was accompanied with plenty of hoopla and marketing:  “96 feet high and over 110 feet above the sand.  The first drop measured about 90 feet at 50°, with a top speed of 55-60mph”.  The coaster could be seen in many a motion picture and also on television – even providing exciting action through the use of rear projection in an episode of Leave It to Beaver – from Season 5, Episode 21:  “Beaver’s Fear”, where it turns out it’s Eddie Haskell who is scared, rather than the Beav.  

I have more scans and articles from Steve coming up. Many thanks to him for helping me keep up with GDB!


TokyoMagic! said...

I wish I had been able to see and ride the Cyclone Racer at The Pike. I only made it to The Pike once and by then there was only a rickety metal coaster that had been given the name "Cyclone."

Thanks for these, Nanook and Major!

K. Martinez said...


Great historical information you've provided here and it's great to see a fellow coaster enthusiast and postcard collector sharing here on GDB.

The first postcard has always been a favorite of mine because of the "Rock Candy Mountain" train tunnel between the rocket ride and Cyclone Racer. Also like the bright yellow rocket ride. These things are definitely of another era.

And of course the classic shot of the Cyclone Racer entrance is another favorite. It really is sad that this classic coaster like many others was lost to time and urban development. It just makes me appreciate more the coasters that survived and made it to the 21st century.

I'm looking forward to more from your collection whatever it may be. Thanks again for sharing.

And thank you, Major for keeping GDB going.

Chuck said...

Love these shots of a coaster I never knew, yet still feel I know from its many appearances in film and TV. Thanks for sharing, Steve & Major!

Irene said...

I remember this coaster though I never went on it - not because I was afraid, I wanted to go on it! But my Mother wouldn't let me. I have clear memories of visiting with the family and Dad and brother going but Mom saying no to me. Not a happy camper. My Mom was somewhat over protective of me. Just like at Disneyland while standing in line to go on the Autopia in Tomorrowland with my brother a little girl got bumped so hard her face went into the steering wheel. Blood all over, crying, being taken away by medical people. That was it - Mom pulled me out of line so fast. She wasn't going to have my front teeth knocked out! I'd say this was around 1958 or 59 when I was 10. Of course my brother got to stay in line and go on it cause he was older and a boy!

Nanook said...

Dear all-

Thanks for your comments. I completely zoned-out today. Unfortunately I never rode this coaster either, but it did look like a lot of fun.