The Giant Coaster at Crystal Beach Amusement Park

The Giant Coaster at Crystal Beach was one of the unique "Side Friction" roller coasters. Using no upstops (wheels under the track) this coaster relied on weight to keep the cars on the track. The trains ran in troughs (more or less) around the wood track. Built in 1916 by T.M Harton, it was originally similar to a standard out and back design. Sometime over its lifespan, it was enlarged to more of an L shape. the 2 trains were made up of 3, 6 passenger cars, for a capacity of 18 people. One of only 2 side friction roller coasters in North America at the time, (Leap The Dips is located at Lakemont Park in Altoona, Pa.) the coaster operated until the final day of the park, and was sold off at the big auction for $2500.00. Unfortunatly, the ride proved too costly to relocate, so the owners, from Buffalo, salvaged the trains, and some of the track. What remained was burned on site. The Giant coaster was a favorite of many. The feeling of weightlessness as you bounced around the track, with no seatbelts, lapbelts, or restraining devices of any kind added a certain thill to the ride.

This postcard view shows 2 of the parks roller coasters, plus the pony rides. On the left is the side friction Giant Coast, while the parks Switchback Coaster is visible on the right.
(APHAN Collection)

One of the many looks of the entrance of the Giant Coaster.
(APHAN collection)

The entrance to the Giant Coaster was quite striking when you entered the park. One of only 2 remaining side friction coasters in North America, it was sold at the auction for around $2500, and was subsequently destroyed on site.
(Photo by Ken Jones Sr.)

The lift hill of the Giant Coaster.
(Photo by Ken Jones Sr.)

Taken from the parking lot this view shows one of the trains heading down the first drop.
(Photo by Ken Jones Sr.)

Taken from the parking lot, this shot was taken a the same time as the shot above.
(Photo by Karen Jones)

The train is just coming out of the turn around at the one end of the Giant Coaster.
(Photo by Ken Jones Sr.)

Taken from the parking lot on the final day of operation, one of the 3 car trains rolls over one of the final hills heading back to the station.
(Photo by Ken Jones Sr.)