7. Wooden Roller Coaster – PNE Playland (1958)

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2003 Top10 Watch List

7. Wooden Roller Coaster – PNE Playland (1958)
PNE Wooden Roller Coaster (1958)

Playland’s Wooden Roller Coaster is known across North America as one of the best coaster rides going. But if the PNE becomes history the Coaster’s future is bleak.

Landscape architects have suggested that it be broken up and used as a garden sculpture in a re-designed Hastings Park. This rare wooden coaster deserves better — much better.

The Wooden Roller Coaster is constructed entirely of specially treated fireproof woods and was built from scratch on the PNE grounds. It’s 75 feet high at its tallest point and in 1958, the year of its construction, it was one of the two highest roller coasters in North America.

Walker LeRoy, of Oaks Park, Oregon, oversaw construction using the plan created by Carl Phare, the world’s foremost roller coaster builder and designer. This was the last coaster that Carl Phare designed. “I’m really proud of this ride,” he said. “I know I’ll never build another so I put everything I have learned over the past 56 years into this one. There’ll never be another one as good.”

Suggestions that the PNE might continue at Hastings Park in temporary structures could bode well for the Coaster if the ride were allowed to stay as the fair’s only permanent structure. Otherwise, its only hope is to be adopted by another municipality.


Update April 28, 2008: The 2008 season celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Wooden Roller Coaster (1958-2008), and it’s still going strong!