Trip Report: Lakemont Park keeps roller coaster history alive

Lakemont Park is a community park in the small town of Altoona, Pa.The park has mini-golf, volleyball, basketball courts, and open fields. I know what you’re thinking, “Why are you talking about it then?”

lakemont park
Photo by Justin S. Landers

By Justin S. Landers

Well, this park has something interesting: The oldest operating roller coaster in the world. Leap the Dips is 118 years old, and is one of the last side friction roller coasters operating in the world. Most coasters now have what are called “up stop wheels,” which are wheels that are under the car and run along the bottom of the track. Side friction roller coasters only have wheels on the side. There is also an older wooden coaster called Skyliner, which sits against the baseball field.


Leap the Dips is a single-car, side friction coaster. It was built in 1902, and operated uninterrupted until 1985. In 1985, the coaster was put into “Standing But Not Operating” (SBNO) condition after falling into disrepair and was considered unsafe to ride. In 1997, fundraising began to save the antique coaster, and it reopened in 1999. It is now extremely well-cared for, and stands as a beautiful creation straight from history. Some of the old cars are still used to this day. American Coaster Enthusiasts (ACE) has Leap the Dips as a Roller Coaster Landmark, and it will hopefully continue to operate for many years to come.


Skyliner, the other coaster in the park, was built in 1960 at Roseland Park in New York, and was relocated to Lakemont Park in 1987. Skyliner was John C. Allen’s first roller coaster, who is credited with the revival of the wooden coaster era. It sits next to a baseball field and provides a great view of the field as it climbs the lift hill. The “Go Curve” can be seen on the side of the cars as it climbs the hill and makes it’s way through the layout, a reference to the local baseball team. Skyliner is also an ACE Roller Coaster Landmark.

The best part of Lakemont Park is the price: The park is free to enter and walk around. Individual ride tickets can be purchased, costing less than $5 per ride; all-day wristbands are also available. The park features a water park, a train, go-karts, and other attractions. It also is a great community park, offering mini-golf, batting cages, volleyball, and picnic fields and tables. The park is extremely unassuming and unless you visit, you would have no idea that it’s home to one of the most famous roller coasters in the world. This is a must-see experience, not far from Dorney Park or Hersheypark, making it an easy add-on stop.

29-year-old Justin Landers owns Just Shoot Light Multimedia Productions. He has been involved in the amusement and theme park industry since 2013 as a freelance photographer and videographer. You can follow him on Instagram @Inverted_Therapy and Just Shoot Light on YouTube.


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