Log Jammer Memories

Like many Pittsburghers (present or former), I was surprised when I found out today that Kennywood will be retiring the Log Jammer ride after 42 years of service.  The last chance to ride this Kennywood mainstay is this Sunday, September 17th.  Kennywood intends to replace the Log Jammer with a new ride, rumors have it as a new roller coaster or a return of the beloved Turnpike ride.  The log chute water ride first opened in 1975 and was the park's first million dollar ride.  It was one of three water rides within the park - the Pittsburgh Plunge and the Raging Rapids being the other.


Compared to the park's other two water rides, the Log Jammer was the most gentile. The ride was a 1,650 foot out and back consisting of two drops - a 27 foot plunge about halfway through and the final 53 foot drop which was the main feature.  The ride was a great family ride for those that didn't want to get drenched but still wanted to cool off on a hot summer's day.  Most of the spillway for the ride was through a wooded area which enhanced the scenic nature of the ride.

Since the announcement of the retirement of the ride, many Pittsburghers from near and far have shared their memories of the Log Jammer and many are sad to see it go.  There's even a petition to save the ride.

What I remember most about the Log Jammer was when it was the only water ride in the park and the long lines to ride it on a hot day.  I was only a kid about seven or eight years old but I can recall the long queue line and anticipation to go on a water ride.  Then there was always the ride on The Whip to "dry off" after.  It was a tradition - ride the Log Jammer - then go on The Whip.  I can still picture in my mind the late afternoon early evening rides on the Log Jammer - the day was still hot or even mild and the long shadows from the setting sun started to creep in.  The lines for the Log Jammer weren't as long at that time of day (especially in the later years) and the ride was still relaxing and a lot of fun.  Rocking the log flume to try and get a little more wet, reaching down to splash water on the people sitting behind or in front of you - and then the big plunge at the end.  Do you try and duck inside the log so it may go faster? Or do you sit up so you can at least get somewhat wet.  But it didn't really matter because you were having fun.  I still recall the pavilion that The Whip was in, the old cursive whip sign that would light up, and the hum of the fluorescent lights inside the pavilion.  For a simple ride that is now nearly 100 years old, The Whip is still one of my all time favorites. The Whip moved to Lost Kennywood in 1995 - and for some reason at least to me because of that move both The Whip and The Log Jammer would never be the same.  I would still ride it but the excitement was gone and our family's long tradition of riding The Whip after the Log Jammer would be no more.

Looking through these photos I took of the Log Jammer in 2010 - which sadly is my last visit to the park - I noticed one thing.  The smiles on all the riders as they came down the main plunge.  And even though I had become rather indifferent to the ride as I got older, I can't help to remember the fond memories from all the times I did ride it.  With two kids of my own (4 and 1 at time of this blog post), my wife and I had been talking about taking our sons to Kennywood on our annual summer visit to my parents.  Of course one of the rides, I was looking forward to sharing with the boys was the Log Jammer.  Unfortunately, we won't be able to do that.  But if you are able to make the time to get to Kennywood this weekend, climb into that log one more time, rock the boat and splash water on the people behind you and enjoy that one final ride.

All photos taken by post author - July 2010.
 

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