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Arrow Development Company

Today’s article in the manufacturing series is about Arrow Development Company, which existed from 1945 to 1981. This article pertains to the rides that Arrow provided to Hersheypark during that time frame. There will be separate articles about HUSS Maschinenfabrik as well as Arrow-Huss and Arrow Dynamics, and S&S Power. 

Arrow Development Company was created in late 1945, in the wake of the end of World War II. The company became famously known for many rides, including the Matterhorn Bobsleds roller coasters at Disneyland, which were the first tubular steel track coasters ever built.

Coal Cracker 016
Coal Cracker in 2006.

The first ride Hersheypark purchased from Arrow was Coal Cracker. It was installed in 1973 as the first part of the Minetown theme area of the park. When Arrow sent a proposal to sell this hydroflume log flume ride to Hersheypark, Arrow told the park this would be the first hydroflume model to be installed in a park (Arrow called it a “New Style Water Ride”). That ended up not being the case, as Magic Mountain installed a hydroflume sooner, in 1972.

Coal Cracker was preliminarily included in Hersheypark’s renovation budget, in late 1971. The ride had three building codes in the R. Duell renovation plans – #5101 for the structure, #5201 for the ride, and #5601 for the lagoon, which is the pool of water for Coal Cracker (which holds approximately 100,000 gallons of water). The ride was formally purchased on August 15, 1972, at a cost of $811,000.

The ride opened on May 20, 1973, featuring two lift hills and one down chute. The drop is based on the drop of the Mill Chute / Lost River.

It had always been planned for Coal Cracker to be installed in 1973, and the 1972 flood resulting from Hurricane Agnes made the ride all the more necessary after the loss of Mill Chute / The Lost Jungle flume ride that had been in the park since 1929. Coal Cracker quickly became one of the most popular rides at Hersheypark, especially given the ability to get people through the line faster than most other rides.

There is a photo spot on the drop of the ride. The pictures can be seen at the end of the exit area, next to the exit for Great Bear. Coal Cracker was renovated in the early 2010s.

Trailblazer 2016
Trailblazer in 2016.

Trailblazer was preliminarily added to Hersheypark’s renovation budget in August 1972. In the R. Duell renovation plan, the coaster was assigned #5206 and the station was assigned #5112.

Several proposals were submitted to R. Duell and Hersheypark for Trailblazer. One proposal was given to Hersheypark by Intamin for a Speed Coaster Mine Train that would have had 2 lifts and was 3270 feet long and could reach speeds of approximately 45 mph. This coaster was a custom system that would have been manufactured by Schwarzkopf Industries GmbH. (Schwarzkopf would later build sooperdooperLooper for Hersheypark, opening in 1977.)

Hersheypark chose Arrow Development’s runaway mine train instead, purchasing the ride on April 30, 1973 at a cost of $975,000.  The ride opened on May 18, 1974, making it the second to last Arrow Mine Train to be opened. The Runaway Mine Train at Six Flags Great Adventure was the last to be opened, on July 4, 1974.

The length of the ride is 1600 feet and reaches speeds of 35mph. The ride has been repainted on several occasions, most recently to the current colors in the 2000s decade. The name Trail-Blazer was part of the design of the roof for the station of the coaster, but was removed by the 1980s. Trailblazer currently runs trains manufactured by Premier Rides.

Twin Turnpike
Twin Turnpike in 2016.

Arrow Development also manufactured both types of cars for the Twin Turnpike. I’ve written about the Twin Turnpike, which you can read here.


If you want to learn more about Arrow Development, there is a great documentary, The Legacy of Arrow Development, worth watching. Check it out! 


To read more about other ride manufacturers that have made rides for Hersheypark, click here.

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Harry Michelson View All

I have a wide variety of interests, from sports to politics, music to Star Trek. I write about the history of amusement parks. Right now I am focused on Hersheypark.

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