Like an unpleasant head-banging on the old Steel Phantom, Pittsburghers received a jolt Thursday when Kennywood Park announced it would remove the popular Log Jammer water ride.
After 42 years, the Log Jammer will glide down its massive 53-foot chute one final time on Sept. 17.
What becomes of the space is anybody’s guess. (A quick internet search offers some rumors.)
“While no final decisions have been made regarding what will replace the Log Jammer, Kennywood is committed to enhancing our guests’ experiences while preserving our signature balance of modern thrills and traditional family favorites,” Kennywood General Manager Jerome Gibas said in a statement.
The park’s PR guy Nick Paradise said, “…in order to truly move towards the future, you have to leave some things behind.”
Log Jammer has long been one of those first rides children did in a transition phase from Kiddieland to bigger rides throughout the park. It’s exciting and pleasant for any age.
So it’s no surprise Pittsburghers didn’t take too kindly to news of its demise.
Perhaps Pittsburghers also are attached to Log Jammer because it seemed like one of those iconic attractions — like the Jack Rabbit and Thunderbolt — that would remain with the park for generations to come even though it held no records, made no “best of” lists and wasn’t nearly as unique as Thunderbolt.
But, oh, those Kennywood memories.
It’s one of the few rides I remember sharing with my grandmother when I was young. You’d get just enough wet to cool you off, but not soaked to your underwear wet like the Raging Rapids, so it was perfect for grandmas and grandkids!
Of the park’s three water rides (Raging Rapids and Pittsburg Plunge are the other two), Log Jammer was the Goldilocks ride: it wasn’t too hot; it wasn’t too cold; it was just right.
Log Jammer was Kennywood’s first ride to cost $1 million. It opened May 22, 1975. The 1,650-foot course meanders mostly through the trees in a back corner of the West Mifflin park’s property and features two drops — a 27-foot drop in the middle of the ride and a 53-drop to end the ride before turning into the station. It was designed by Arrow Dynamics — the now-defunct company that also constructed the Steel Phantom.
Hearing the news that Log Jammer would be gone was pretty stunning. Knowing my sometimes ridiculously obnoxious love of Kennywood, several friends checked in to get my reaction.
It’s too bad the park waited until just before the final two summer operating days (Sept. 16 and 17) to make the announcement. A proper farewell to a much beloved ride would have been a wonderful end to such a memorable part of the park.
Also, if you’re wondering, I won’t be that yinzer.