Geauga Lake's new Big Dipper coaster owners try to keep it in Northeast Ohio

2:58 PM, Oct 18, 2010   |    comments
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"I want to ride it," said Jones, of the 85-year-old, wooden roller coaster known as the Big Dipper. "And I won't feel like we've been successful until we've got it rebuilt and we can actually ride it."

Jones, a college student from Dayton and self-admitted roller coaster junkie, travelled to Aurora Sunday to see the Big Dipper.

Jones and New Zealander Harold Garmonsway are co-owners of the roller coaster.

The pair, who met online in a forum for roller coaster enthusiasts, saved it from the wrecking ball last month after there were no bidders for the Big Dipper during an internet auction.

Garmonsway bought the Big Dipper for an undisclosed price.

"I think it was in a matter of 24 hours that we went from everything being a possibility," Jones said. "And then all of a sudden, we owned a coaster.

"He's never ridden a wooden roller coaster," she said of Garmonsway. "He wants this to be his first one."

On Sunday, Jones walked on and around the Big Dipper at the site of the former Geauga Lake amusement park. The Big Dipper was designed by John Miller, the reigning coaster architect of his day.

"It's actually in wonderful shape," Jones said. "If the cars were ready to run and if they were on the track and it had power, you could run it today."

The next step, according to Jones, will be to secure an engineering company to consult with to come up with a plan to dismantle the coaster.

"They'll be able to help us organize that," Jones said. "Take it down in a proper order and have everything documented on how it goes back together."

The ride's smaller components and electronics may be removed before or during winter.

Jones said the hope is to have the roller coaster dismantled by next summer. The work won't be cheap.

"We're looking at about roughly $2 million to take it apart, move it and store it, and reassemble it in a new location," said Jones.

She's been scouting out possible locations in Northeast Ohio  

"We want to keep it in the Cleveland area because that's where its heritage is," Jones said. "And we want to open it back up for the coaster fans and the people in the Cleveland area to enjoy.

"I know that it's all going to be worth it in the end," she said. "It's going to be a great ride."


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