Harry's Corner: The Runaway Mine Train
Construction of the Runaway Mine Train took only four months, beginning in March 1974 with ground clearing and the installation of nearly 100 concrete footers along the ride's approximate 2,400 foot long path. Steel and timber supports, some reaching over 50 feet in height were erected in April and May, followed by the coaster's tubular steel track being installed in June, all leading to a targeted introduction date of July 1, 1974 to coincide with the park's grand opening. Although the Runaway Mine Train missed joining the roster of exciting opening day attractions by less than a week, it was soon challenging guests to "careen and scream at terrifying speeds crazily out-of-control."
On the Runaway Mine Train riders take a seat in one of five ore car-type vehicles with a lead car designed to resemble a vintage steam locomotive. When cleared for departure, the train snakes along at ground level where it engages with a chain lift that carries its brave passengers to a maximum height of 60 feet. Once at the top of the lift the real action begins and it is here that the coaster earns its "runaway" moniker with its spiraling turns, quick drops, sudden climbs, and up-close encounters with the surrounding treetops.
As built, the Runaway Mine Train was nearly identical to its designer's initial concept with one major modification. Original plans for the ride included a segment of track through a lengthy underwater tunnel during the final turn around in front of the park's signature Fort building. At the last minute this ambitious feature of the ride was eliminated due to construction-related time constraints and instead reconfigured with the track being installed atop wooden trestles over Lahaway Creek, the body of water in front of the Fort. Although a tunnel would have been exciting, today's banked track situated just a few of feet above the waterway still provides for a unique conclusion to this roller coaster.
Very little has changed on the Runaway Mine Train since its premiere at Great Adventure which is a testament to its quality design and overall appeal. The most notable alteration on the ride was the installation of individually locking lap bars (instead of a single bar for each riding couple) which has allowed for a more comfortable ride experience as well as provide added security for the coaster's smallest travelers. With a height restriction of only 44", the Runaway Mine Train often serves as an introductory ride to the world of roller coasters for many young enthusiasts who are just starting their thrill-riding careers.
Since its debut at Six Flags Great Adventure, the Runaway Mine Train has been surpassed many times by bigger, taller, and faster scream machines. Even so, our classic mine ride is still extremely popular today delighting adults and thrilling children on their wild western journeys. During your next visit to Six Flags Great Adventure be sure to stop by the station and hop on the earliest departure for a train ride that is guaranteed to be full of fun and excitement for the entire family. All aboard the Runaway Mine Train!