WEST MIFFLIN, PA – As Kennywood readies to open its latest record-setting roller coaster, The Steel Curtain, later this summer, it’s only fitting that America’s Finest Traditional Amusement Park begin the year by paying homage to the builder of the park’s first roller coasters.
Kennywood began its 121stseason on Saturday, April 27 by welcoming Season Passholders for first crack at rides, games and Potato Patch® fries.
Before the gates opened at 10:30 a.m., Kennywood, along with the Senator John Heinz History Center, American Coaster Enthusiasts (ACE) and the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission (PHMC), dedicated a new PHMC marker recognizing Frederick Ingersoll, to be located at the entrance to Kennywood. Ingersoll was a pioneer in the early days of amusement parks and roller coasters, building several of Kennywood’s first roller coasters at the start of the 20thCentury, and founding the short-lived but influential Luna Park, located in Pittsburgh’s Oakland neighborhood from 1905-1909.
“There’s no better example of our ongoing commitment to modern thrills and classic rides than what’s happening at Kennywood right now,” said park General Manager Jerome Gibas. “As we look ahead to an exciting future with Steel Curtain and Steelers Country opening later this year, we begin the season honoring the great history of amusement parks and rides in the Greater Pittsburgh area through the dedication of a marker to the man who built Kennywood’s first roller coasters.”
“We’re glad to be shining a light on Frederick Ingersoll,” said History Center Director of Publications Brian Butko, who nominated Ingersoll and has written books on Kennywood and Ingersoll’s Luna Park. “He was a Pittsburgher who not only helped launch Kennywood and built Pittsburgh’s Luna in 1905, he built rides across the country and essentially created and spread the idea of a modern amusement park.”
Ingersoll built Kennywood’s original Old Mill (though rebuilt after a fire in the 1920s, it is still considered the world’s oldest continuously operating dark water ride), and he and his companies oversaw construction of the park’s first four roller coasters: Figure 8 Toboggan, Scenic Railway, The Racer, and Speedoplane. The marker for Ingersoll is the third PHMC plaque at Kennywood, joining other markers honoring Kennywood Park and Braddock’s Crossing.
“With Kennywood being a National Historic Landmark and one of our region’s most iconic attractions, it is fitting to have three historic markers in one place for visitors to enjoy and learn from,” said Andy Masich, Chairman emeritus of the PHMC and president and CEO of the Senator John Heinz History Center.
The newest marker was paid for in its entirety by the Western Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Coaster Enthusiasts (ACE), who fundraised more than $2,400 for its construction and installation. It will join the PHMC tributes to Kennywood Parkand Braddock’s Crossingin a new Historical Marker Gardenat the park’s entrance, where they can be viewed year-round.
“It’s wonderful to see Frederick Ingersoll finally being recognized,” said ACE Historian Dave Hahner. “He created one of the first chains of amusement parks with Luna Park in several cities as well as the development of countless amusement rides and early roller coasters. His contributions truly helped to form Kennywood into the great amusement park it is today.”
This weekend, Kennywood is open exclusively to Season Passholders, operating from 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. on April 27 & 28. The park fully opens to the public on May 4; daily operations begin on May 23. For more information on Kennywood’s history, operating schedule, admission prices, discount opportunities, special events, and more, visit www.Kennywood.com or contact the park at 412-461-0500.