WESTERHOLD: Old Reliable

"This is the oldest rollercoaster here,' the man told the woman as they both climbed in the last car of the Blue Streak.
Matt Westerhold
May 24, 2010


“This is the oldest rollercoaster here,” the man told the woman as they both climbed in the last car of the Blue Streak.

The man was one of those people who enjoy all things Cedar Point, and their conversation got me to thinking way back.

“Push down, pull up, step out quickly,” the ride operator would say as another operator pulled fiercely on a large wooden brake protruding from the beneath the concrete at his feet.

The Blue Streak — either the red car or the blue car — would come to a halt on the track in direct relation to the operator’s pull of the brake. It always made me wonder what would happen if one day the brakeman just didn’t feel like working very hard.

“Push down, pull up. Step out QUICKLY please.”

Back then the line for the Blue Streak snaked out front of the ride toward the midway. There was a small rollercoaster in Kiddieland for a time, and there was the Fun House, the Rotor, the Mill Race and a go-kart track, but the Blue Streak was far and away the premiere ride at Cedar Point.  

The safety upgrades — padded seats, individual safety belts and safety bars and molded seats — were not yet in existence. The Blue Streak cars offered an open seat for two, a tattered belt and a rickety safety bar.

“Push down, pull up,” the ride operator called out on the handheld mic, making sure the bars locked just before pushing the control to sent the car onto its ascent.

“This ride’s on the register of national historic … ah … things,” the man told the woman. “Historic rides … er … structures.”

His efforts to impress her were either met with awe, complete boredom or something in between. The woman had yet to speak a word in response.

“This ride’s been here since I was little,” he said. “And it still kicks.”

The Blue Streak does still have its edge-of-danger, off-the-track attitude that made it so popular, but techno-advances created the superior rides that make higher speeds over higher hills and sharper spins on tighter tracks possible.

It difficult to imagine a ride that would take more design thought and engineering than Millennium, or more guts than Top Thrill Dragster. But maybe one day in the distant future, these rides too will look so small in contrast to the latest upgrades at Cedar Point. It could happen. Today’s big monsters of the midway could fade in the skyline behind the shadows of a next generation of rollercoasters the way the Blue Streak is dwarfed by Millennium, Raptor and Top Thrill today.

The Blue Streak has changed some since it first launched on the track in 1964, but the upgrades are relatively minor.

“This is one of the few things that’s always been the same in my life,” the man said as our car pulled under the ride cover at the end of the track. “Every hill, every twist and every jump off the tracks has been like that every time.

“That’s called being dependable.”

He hit on something there that worked.

“There’s something to be said for dependability,” the woman responded. “There’s something to be said for that.”

There you have it.

“Push down, pull up. Step out quickly please.”