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Happy Birthday, Giant Dipper!

The Giant Dipper roller coaster on the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk (above) marks its 85th birthday this summer. The wooden roller coaster is the 9th oldest roller coaster in the United States and the oldest on the West Coast! The birthday will be marked by fireworks tonight!

A ride on the Giant Dipper, which originally cost 15 cents, now costs $4.50. Over 55 million riders have enjoyed the Giant Dipper, which was built by Arthur Looff in 1924, in 47 days at a cost of $50,000 ($625,00 in today’s dollars – still not much). In 1911, Looff’s father, Charles I.D. Looff, created a merry-go-round with hand-carved horses for the Boardwalk. In June of 1987, both the Giant Dipper and the merry-go-round were designated National Historic Landmarks by the U.S. National Park Service.

Although the Giant Dipper originally cost only $50,000 to build in 1924, it cost $135,000 to PAINT in 2001. Today, labor and materials costs for cleaning and painting the Giant Dipper come to well over $200,000.

Top speeds on the roller coaster approach 55 miles/hour. The original electric motor still powers the ride, but the Giant Dipper is “no slouch (definition 1b).” The jolts and G-forces once caused a man’s glass eye to pop out!

The Giant Dipper has appeared in the major motion pictures “The Sting II,” The Lost Boys,” “Dangerous Minds,” and Clint Eastwood‘s “Sudden Impact,” the only “Dirty Harry” movie to be directed by Eastwood, himself. The roller coaster received accolades from veteran riders Vincent Price and Herb Caen.

A tip from Charles Canfield, 67, president of the Seaside Company, who has been riding the Giant Dipper since he was a teenager – the back car gives the wildest ride!

-Bill at Cheshire Cat Photo™

You can view higher-resolution photos (*generally* 7-30 megabytes, compressed) at the Cheshire Cat Photo™ Pro Gallery on Shutterfly™, where you can also order prints and gifts decorated with the photos of your choice from the gallery. Apparel and other gifts decorated with some of our most popular photos can be ordered from the Cheshire Cat Photo™ Store on CafePress®. Both Shutterfly™ and CafePress® ship to most international locations worldwide! If you don’t see what you want or would like to receive an email when new photos are up on the site, send us an email at info@cheshirecatphoto.com.

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