This weekend, Kennywood Park’s 42-year-old Log Jammer will, for the last time, shuttle thrill-seekers around the ride’s iconic aqua-hued track and send them splashing down a 53-foot-hill into the chilly water below.
Kennywood announced today that the Log Jammer will close Sunday, Sept. 17 after a decades-long run at the park, where it became a beloved attraction. It was a difficult decision, park officials said, but they’re looking forward to the future of that space.
“One of the challenges that we have here is that we’re landlocked. We have a highway on one side, a river on the other, a neighborhood on the third, and the fourth that’s really difficult geographically to do anything with,” Kennywood spokesman Nick Paradise told The Incline. “It’s a balancing act, and it’s not an easy balancing act. To make additions, it just becomes a necessity that you have to look to remove things to make room.”
Park officials determined that the Log Jammer’s corner of the park presents the “most effective opportunities for future development,” Paradise said. Other factors in the decision included the ride’s age and upkeep costs (the Log Jammer is particularly large), he said.
The ride opened in 1975 as Kennywood’s first million-dollar attraction. The site has previously housed attractions such as the Kangaroo, Loop-O-Plane, Bayern Kurve and a Ferris Wheel. From 1930 until 1974, the site was home to a pony track.
So why is this such a big deal?
“It is and was a landmark ride for a long time. It’s been around long enough for a few generations to ride it,” Paradise said. “It’s a hard thing. It’s not a decision that we come to lightly, and it really is bittersweet.”
If you’re wondering what’s going to happen to the logs, we are, too. (We’ve got an empty spot in our co-working space, where a Log Jammer log would fit perfectly as a makeshift couch.) But Kennywood hasn’t decided yet.
And if you’re wondering what will replace the Log Jammer, we are, too. Kennywood officials don’t know what’s going in that spot — or when that will happen. So, dear reader, we came up with some ideas for what could occupy the Log Jammer’s corner of Kennywood.
1. A new Turnpike ride
Mimicking Kennywood’s Turnpike ride — which was also ripped away from us too soon — we’d like to rename it with the idea for a new mythical creation: The Parkway South. On the Parkway South, everybody knows how to merge, nobody brakes for tunnels and you never have to utter the word “jagoff” at your fellow road warriors.
2. A Ferris Wheel … in George Ferris’ hometown
Considering that the Ferris Wheel was invented by a Pittsburgher, it’s shocking that there’s no permanent Ferris Wheel in town. A regal, soaring, spinning wheel of lights would fit perfectly into this spot — and we know that because it used to host one.
In the 1890s after George Ferris invented the wheel, a reporter described it as: “an indescribable sensation, that of revolving through such a vast orbit in a bird cage.” We’ll take one of those, please. We envision something as beautiful and massive as the Ferris Wheel at the Regatta this year.
3. A Potato Patch outpost
Imagine how big a Potato Patch restaurant could be on this spot. The cheese could be poured from vats. The potatoes could be stocked in barrels. The bacon could fill tray upon tray. The line … well, that would probably still be out the door. In case this dream is never realized, we did learn this summer that there *are* already three Potato Patch locations in Kennywood, so you can beat the line.
4. A roller rink
A throwback to Pittsburgh’s Luna Park, an old timey roller rink would no doubt be the site of roller derby matches, marriage proposals and nostalgia-inducing spins around the park.
5. A pool
Let’s continue with the nostalgia for a second. Sure, there’s a pool down the street at Sandcastle. But now that the Log Jammer is gone, we’ll need another opportunity to cool down on a hot summer day. And if you’re still not sold, look at this vintage image of happy Pittsburghers splashing around in the pool.
6. Laser Loop
If you never got a chance to ride the Laser Loop before it left Kennywood in 1990, just watching this video of it in its new home might just make your stomach flip. We’d love to see a return of this prized ride.
7. A Dawn of the Dead ride
A zombie-themed ride in George Romero’s hometown is a natural fit. The ride’s tagline writes itself: “When there’s no more room in hell, the dead will walk the earth.” Dun dun duuuun.
8. The Log Jammer
Yeah, that’s right. Change nothing. Pittsburgh has spoken.