Wooden coaster turns 60

A beloved Vancouver roller coast that has shaken nerves and rattled brains is celebrating a special birthday this year.

It was 60 years ago that the PNE roller coaster was built and it's been delivering thrills every since.

The Playland Wooden Coaster was built back in 1957 and opened in 1958. The maximum speed it reaches is 76 km/h.

It took $200,000 at the time to build and a group of engineers from B.C. came out to inspect the nearly complete Playland Coaster.

“According to the story, the 'experts' laughingly told the men who designed and built the Coaster that their $200,000 project was a fool's game,” said spokesperson Eddie Tabakman with the Pacific National Exhibition.

The 90-second ride was built from Douglas fir and was designed by Carl Phare.

At the time of creation, engineers said there was no way the coaster train would be able to make its way around snake dips, bends and curves powered only by the gravity of the first hill.

But builder Walker LeRoy bet them $100, a lot back then, to show them it could be done.

“Holding only a piece of rope, with nothing but his grip to keep him from getting whipped up and off the wood into the wild blue yonder, Leroy set off to prove them wrong,” said Tabakman.

He collected his hundred bucks and the legacy was started.

An estimated half a million people ride the coaster every year and it is listed as an American coaster enthusiasts “coaster classic.”

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