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Six Flags Magic Mountain
Six Flags Magic Mountain
Los Angeles, California
Gold Rusher
 
 

5 Questions to Ask About Gold Rusher

This mine train was the park's first roller coaster

When tubular steel was in its infancy, Six Flags pioneered a new innovation – the mine train style coaster. Gold Rusher, presented by SNICKERS, was the very first roller coaster at Six Flags Magic Mountain, opening in 1971. At the time, this type of mine train coaster was rare and state-of-the-art, yet families are still drawn to this historic favorite. Here are five questions you need to know about how Gold Rusher fits into roller coaster history.

What is Gold Rusher?
Gold Rusher is the original roller coaster at Six Flags Magic Mountain, which wonderfully uses the sloped terrain of the park to race over both sides of the park’s center hill. The high speed, spiraling finale still elicits shrieks of delight from coaster fans of all ages. Today, the park is known for the largest collection of roller coasters in the world, yet even among the towering giants, countless families still enjoy the curvy thrills of this historic favorite.

What was the first mine train coaster?
In 1966, the summer debut of the Runaway Mine Train was an overwhelming success. By today’s standards, the height and speed appear pretty tame, but for the 1960s, it was state of the art. Investing in theming, Six Flags captured the exhilaration of racing through mines, buildings, and past a waterfall. The finale of passing through a hotel, only to suddenly drop down through the floor into an underground tunnel was a stroke of sheer genius. Early tubular steel installations featured individual cars, but Six Flags implemented stylized long trains that fit the theme. Multiple trains carried thousands of delighted passengers aboard every day.

What were coasters like before mine trains?
When Six Flags Over Texas first opened in 1961, the only roller coaster in the park was a production model wild mouse style coaster. Individual cars seated only one or two passengers. The ability to move people through lines was not possible. The small roller coaster only lasted the first four seasons. A new innovative roller coaster seemed like a much-needed attraction.

What made the tubular steel track so groundbreaking?
In the first half of the last century, hundreds and hundreds of roller coasters were built, the number eventually reaching well beyond a thousand. With just a few rare exceptions, they were all built of wood. Some coasters featured flat iron steel track, but not many. A company named Arrow came up with the tubular steel track idea in 1959. This new concept solved many of the shortcomings of the flat track, including providing a smoother ride experience.

How did mine trains gain so much popularity?
The brand new mine train launched an entire genre of coasters that swept through the amusement park business. As new theme parks were built, the inclusion of a mine train style coaster seemed to be a “must have” in the park’s lineup. The tubular steel mine train coaster would eventually evolve into larger coasters with bigger drops in the 1970s, which would also bring about the next big step – upside down inversions. Within a period of a couple of decades, the number of tubular steel coasters would surpass wooden coasters. Today, they outnumber them almost than 30 to 1.

 

*Tim Baldwin – editor of RollerCoaster! Magazine, staff writer at Amusement Today and Communications Director for American Coaster Enthusiasts – contributed to this article.

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