When it comes to the lost amusement parks of Western Pennsylvania, one of the ones that stands out in the minds of many longtime residents of Pittsburgh is West View Park. While I never had the chance to experience West View, as it closed in 1977 (six years before I was born), I had the opportunity to relive a little of its nostalgia a few weeks ago when we visited Conneaut Lake Park.
So what’s the connection between West View Park’s The Dips formerly located in the North Hills of Pittsburgh and Conneaut Lake Park’s Blue Streak?
West View Park’s The Dips and Conneaut Lake Park’s The Blue Streak
On the surface it might not seem like much other than they were both wooden rollercoasters in successful amusement parks. In fact, the coasters were actually sister coasters, sharing many of the same characteristics and design elements. The Blue Streak is as close to riding The Dips as many of us will ever get.
The Blue Streak debuted in 1938 and replaced an aging and outdated Scenic Railway from 1909 which operated in the same site. The new coaster was designed by Edward Vettel Sr. and featured an out and back design, racing through the woods, navigating not only an initial drop but two additional drops. The coaster also encountered several smaller hills which provided ample airtime, and a turnaround, before heading back to the station. Another unique feature of the coaster is a dark, winding tunnel that the coaster train must go through in order to get to the lift hill.
In recent years, the tunnel had been in dire need of repair with holes and gaps in the walls as well as a roof that was almost entirely missing. Work has been going on to repair the tunnel and work was completed for this year’s opening.
Like the park itself, the Blue Streak has also had its share of struggles. In 1992, it was announced that it would be the Blue Streak’s final season and that the coaster, needing $100,000 in repairs, would be scrapped. The coaster was saved when the owners sold the park to individuals who were invested in keeping a local treasure open. However, the park filed for bankruptcy and closed in 1995.
Up until 2002, the Blue Streak had been operating using the 1960s National Amusement Device (NAD) Century Flyer trains. The NAD train was replaced with one of the original, restored Vettel trains at that time.
The Vettel train was used for the next eight years until 2010 when the Blue Streak once again started using the NAD trains. In 2013, one of the remaining NAD cars was lost in a fire which also destroyed the Beach Club.
The Dips Legacy
So back to that Pittsburgh connection.
The Blue Streak is one of only two Vettel shallow coasters still operating and this one is the one that most resembles West View’s The Dips. The other is The Cyclone at Lakeside Amusement Park in Denver, Colorado. While The Dips may now just be a memory, I love the fact that I can ride the Blue Streak and the legend of West View Park and The Dips can live on.