(WHTM) — Amusement parks and roller coasters bring joy to people who visit and ride them. Many look towards the future for new and exciting coasters, but there is one roller coaster that will be turning 100 in 2024.
Thunderhawk at Dorney Park, located near Allentown, was built in 1924. It is the oldest operating coaster within Dorney Park’s parent company, Cedar Fair. It is also one of the oldest operating coasters in the world.
When the coaster first opened, the ride was simply called “The Coaster.” This coaster was designed by Herbert P. Schmeck and opened on March 30, 1924, and replaced the park’s tamer Scenic Railway.
The coaster was built by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company (PTC) and was built along an existing trolley line. In 1930, the park rehired PTC, as well as Schmeck to redesign the coaster. The layout that they designed is what the coaster features in the present day.
The ride reaches a height of 80 feet before dropping down a 65-foot drop, reaching speeds of 45 miles per hour. The ride features a figure-eight style of turnaround, which features swooping drops and sharp turns. The coaster itself is 2,767 feet in length.
In 1989, the coaster was renamed to Thunderhawk. When Dorney Park was sold to Cedar Fair in 1992, the amusement company renovated the station to feature a modern loading station in 1995.
In 2021, the coaster was designated as an American Coaster Enthusiast (ACE) Landmark. A plaque near the attraction shows this prestigious designation.
Nearly 100 years later, this fan favorite continues to show what a classic American wooden roller coaster was like back in the early 1900s.