So in some exciting news, at least for us Pittsburghers, The Thunderbolt has (finally!!) been recognized as a Coaster Landmark by the American Coaster Enthusiasts on July 27th, 2014.
Read more below!
This means that all three wooden coasters at Kennywood are now honored as Coaster Landmarks, with Jack Rabbit and Racer having been honored in 2010.
Originally built in 1924 by John A. Miller the ride was called 'Pippin' until a name change for the 1968 season, which coincided with the track expansion.
So our home grown coaster follows the terrain of the hills at a length of 2,887 ft and a max height of 70 ft. and the highest drop is 95ft, which falls in the middle of the track due to the layout of the ride. The max speed is 55 mph and it takes 1min and 48 secs (although it seems longer).
|Here you can see The Phantom's Revenge cut through The Thunderbolt|
So as I said above the highest drop is in the middle of the track and this is because the lift hill is also in the middle of the track (about 30secs into it) so when you leave the station the train goes down a hill and right into the ride.
During the track expansion most of the ride was left intact with the exception of the double-dip, station, and station turn around which were removed for the new front helix hills and the four drop downs. The Thunderbolt still uses the 1958 Pippin trains known as "Century Flyers"
In 1974 the New York Times rated The Thunderbolt as the #1 coaster in the country and it's the most popular ride at Kennywood Park, and I agree with this one it's such a great coaster, I could ride it all day and be happy.
|Photo of The Thunderbolt minus the valley hills|
After look up the history of the ride, I'm proud to say it's mostly boring which is a good thing for a coaster. Don't want a ride with many accidents or issues behind it.
1991: The tunnel over the first dip was removed to let the Steel Phantom to through The Thunderbolt track
1998: The headlights on the train were refurbished for Kennywood's 100th anniversary.
1999: The Thunderbolt's operators failed to brake an incoming train and it crashed into a loading train causing injury to 30 people.
2001: The ride was closed during the construction of Phantom's Revenge.
2006: The famous T-bolt logo was added in place of the headlight on the front of the trains.
|The Thunderbolt "T" logo|
2008: The Thunderbolt celebrated it's 40th anniversary.
Like I said, a pretty boring history which is a good thing all around. The best thing about The Thunderbolt being awarded Coaster Landmark status this makes Kennywood the only park in America to reach this status.
As a fan of my hometown park I'm glad to see it recongized for such a great honor and I can't wait until my next trip to Kennywood to see the new plaque posted up.
|The yellow arrow of Kennywood, pointing the way to the park|