The oldest standing roller coaster
in the world, Leap-The-Dips opened in 1902 at Lakemont Park
in Altoona, PA
. It is the last known example of a figure-eight side friction
coaster in the United States.
One of about 250 coasters of its kind, Leap-the-Dips is one of very few remaining and possibly the only one never to have been moved. Built by the E. Joy Morris Company, it operated from 1902 until 1985, when it was closed down and remained standing but not operating. Lakemont Park did not have the money to restore the ride, so a non-profit organization called the "Leap-The-Dips Preservation Foundation" was formed. The ride's 1996 designation as a National Historic Landmark and listing on the National Register of Historic Places drew attention to the cause, and after years of fundraising, the group had gathered one million dollars. Renovation and restoration began in 1997, and Leap-The-Dips reopened on Memorial Day 1999. Today it is owned by Leap, Inc., a corporation composed of volunteer community leaders who work with the Preservation Foundation to maintain the ride.
The statistics of Leap-The-Dips show it is not one of the wildest rides operating today, but when it opened at the turn of the century it was definitely a thrill ride. The track is 1,452 feet long and 41 feet high; the largest "dip" is nine feet and the steepest descent just 25 degrees. The average ride time is one minute and average speed is 10mph. Considering the coaster's history (and that the American Coaster Enthusiasts were strong supporters of its reopening) it is not surprising that Leap-The-Dips is listed as an ACE Coaster Classic.