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Geauga Lake: Big Dipper still standing four years later

6:38 PM, Jun 15, 2012   |    comments
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BAINBRIDGE -- It will be four years ago June 17 that Geauga Lake's Big Dipper was sold. Today it still stands silently among the park's remains.

On June 17, 2008, Sandusky-based Cedar Fair Entertainment had the first day of a two-day auction of the rides, concession stands and memorabilia by Norton Auctioneers at the then-recently closed Geauga Lake Park in Bainbridge.

It was that day that an agent for an undisclosed buyer bought the historic Big Dipper roller coaster, as well as the Raging Wolf Bobs double coaster.

The agent was the sole bidder and snagged The Big Dipper for $5,000. He said that day that he represented a man who wanted to move the Big Dipper to another location and get it operational again.

Today The Big Dipper still stands untouched and unmoved but still mourned, easily visible from outside the park along Aurora Road.

Calls to Cedar Fair for comment went unreturned as of the deadline for this article.

Contacted by WKYC, the original agent for the buyer at the auction said "The Big Dipper is still owned by the man who bought it four years ago...I think. I have not spoken with him in a year. For your information, Cedar Fair did sell (The Big Dipper) and they did NOT buy it, no matter what you have heard or been told."

Pieces and parts of the Raging Wolf Bobs, located at the other end of the park, have been removed but most of it still remains.

Then, in December 2009, as the coaster remained in plain sight on the Geauga Lake property and no plans to move it somewhere had been reported, that still unknown buyer offered it for sale again for $150,000.

Now that buyer has a new representative -- Medina County resident Jeff Shimko -- and Shimko said then that the coaster could be purchased for $65,000.

At the time, Shimko did not have any idea why the coaster's owner wanted to re-sell the Big Dipper.

Cedar Fair, Geauga Lake's parent company, closed the amusement park on Sept. 21, 2007.  It has been marketing the 550-acre park for sale for five years but no sale has come through for all or part of the property.

Sandusky-based Cedar Fair owns the former Geauga Lake, the adjacent Geauga Lake's Wildwater Kingdom that is still in operation, Cedar Point in Sandusky, Kings Island in Cincinnati, and other amusement parks and water parks in North America.

The Big Dipper was built and opened in 1925 at Geauga Lake. The John Miller-designed coaster celebrates its 87th anniversary this year.

It is the seventh oldest coaster still in existence in the United States.

Many questions still remain. Did The Big Dipper really sell for $5,000 that day at the 2008 auction? The short answer now appears to be "no."

The Big Dipper was the only item sold during the June 17-18, 2008 auction at Geauga Lake that had the condition that Cedar Fair approve the sale and the sale price, according to Norton Auctioneers, Cedar Fair and Shimko.

"After the auction, (another) price and terms were agreed to and the coaster was sold," Shimko said.

Shimko said the final sale price was more than $5,000 but he declined to name that price.

Right after the park closed Sept. 21, 2007, Cedar Fair hired Colliers International's Cleveland office to handle the sale of the park land. No purchase prices for the entire property or the individual parcels has ever been made public.

Anyone still interested in buying the Big Dipper could likely contact Shimko at (330) 635-3726.


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