Richard Bowker, the gentleman who shared his collection of seven photo albums of Rock Springs Park postcards and pictures for my book, referred to some of the rides in Rock Springs Park as being “homemade.” He meant, generally, that many of the rides which remained in the upper park during the late 1960s and 1970 were made using everyday construction materials and not factory parts. Specifically, he mentioned the trolley ride (as seen below) which appears to be hand welded with plywood sides and seats.
In the background of the Kiddie Trolley picture one can see the red Kiddie Cars. A closer examination of the image below reveals that the cars are actually store-bought pedal cars that have been set into a permanent “wheelie” so that Junior is not able to steer off the circular base. Like a lot of amusement park Kiddie Rides, the steering wheel is for fun but not function.
The homemade aspect of the rides was not limited to the Kiddie rides. While the Aeroplanes would most likely have been originally manufactured by an amusement ride company, by the time visitors to the park rode them in 1970, they were more replacement part than original, judging from the photographic evidence.
I am not suggesting that homemade rides were any less fun or thrilling than those from the factory. On the contrary, the faces of the children on these rides say it all. In addition, I have listened to plenty of testimonials of those who rode them in later years; many were forbidden to ride the Aeroplanes or the Cyclone, which would have added a heightened sense of danger and thrill overall.
If the video below is to be believed, homemade rides can be a lot of fun. In it, a guy named John Ivers fed up with waiting in long lines at amusement parks, decided to build a roller coaster in his back yard called “The Blue Flash”. This ride features a full 360 degree loop, (but with no overhead restraint), and a 20ft lift hill with custom made motorized chain.