Ride-N-Laff at West View Park | 1938 – 1963

In 1938, West View Park purchased a new dark ride, Ride-N-Laff. It was installed and opened on May 8, 1938, the first day of the 1938 operating season.

Ride-N-Laff was manufactured by the Ralph E. Chambers Engineering Company (commonly called R.E. Chambers Company) of Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania. The Chambers company was the successor company to Traver Engineering Company, famous for among other rides, Caterpillar, Chair Swing, and Tumble Bug. Traver Engineering went bankrupt in 1933; Traver’s chief engineer, Richard E. Chambers, purchased the production plant in Beaver Falls and renamed the company.

The ride was converted into Davey Jones Locker after the 1963 season. Davey Jones Locker opened on June 6, 1964.

Davey Jones Locker (WVP)

Davey Jones Locker replaced Ride N Laff in 1964.

It is sometimes said that Ride-N-Laff was remodeled into Land of the Giants and then Davey Jones Locker, but this is incorrect. Davey Jones Locker was remodeled into Land of the Giants in 1977.

If anyone has any pictures of Ride-N-Laff before it was renovated into Davey Jones Locker, please contact me in the comments section below, or on The Amusement Parkives Facebook page.

To read more Throwback Thursday Posts, click here. 

The Figure-8 Coasters of West View

West View Park had two roller coasters called Figure-8.

The first Figure-8 was built in 1906 – for purposes of designation, this roller coaster will be called Figure-8 (1906) – for West View Park’s first season. It was one major part of the $250,000 spent on constructing the park. It was constructed by T.M. Harton & Company, who was also owner of the park through the West View Park Company.

1906-04-29 Pittsburgh Daily Post (pS4-8) 002

Rear view of Figure-8 in West View Park, as seen in The Pittsburgh Gazette, on April 29, 1906, in Section 4, page 8.

After the 1908 season, Figure-8 (1906) was closed down. It was overhauled and rebuilt by T.M. Harton & Company into a new figure-8 coaster. For purposes of designation, this roller coaster will be called Figure-8 (1909).

Figure-8 (1909) was claimed to be the longest roller coaster in America, with a length of a half-mile.

1909-05-16 The Pittsburgh Gazette Times (pS1-6)

Article with photo about West View Park in The Pittsburgh Gazette Times, May 16, 1909, in Section 1, on page 6.

This roller coaster was closed at the conclusion of the 1916 season. It was replaced by a new $50,000 roller coaster called Speed-O-Plane.

The next article in my series on West View Park will be about the Speed-O-Plane and its successor, Greyhound. 

The Opening of West View Park

On March 3, 1906, in the Harrisburg Telegraph, it was reported that 22 new corporations had been chartered by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania State Department. At the bottom of the list was a company valued at $100,000 (approximately $2.6 million in 2017 US dollars): West View Park Company, Pittsburg. (This was during the time Pittsburgh was spelled without the ending “h.”) F.W. Henninger was listed as the representative of the company.

1906-03-09 Harrisburg Telegraph (p12) [short]

List of new corporations established on March 9, 1906, in the Harrisburg Telegraph, on page 12. I removed the other 21 companies from the list for the purposes of easily displaying this article. This also misspells F.W. Henninger’s name as “Hemminger.”

Several days later, stockholders of the West View Park Company elected its officers. T.M. Harton was named president; O.C. MacKalip, vice president; F.W. Henninger, secretary and treasurer. The first board of directors were: T.M. Harton, L.T. Yoder, W.D. Johnston, E.D. Comstock, O.C. MacKalip, E.C. Berger, and F.W. Henninger.

The purpose of this company was to open a brand new trolley park in West View, Pennsylvania. Roughly $250,000 (approximately $6.4 million in 2017 US dollars) was to be spent on opening the park.

Below is a slideshow of images from The Pittsburgh Gazette from April 1906 of West View Park.

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Pittsburgh Railways Company spent $200,000 (approximately $5.2 million in 2017 US dollars) adding terminal facilities, a power station, and extending power lines, to the Bellevue line.

West View Park opened on Wednesday, May 23, 1906, with Nirella’s Fourteenth Regiment Band being the major performer in the Dancing Pavilion. The park opened with three amusement rides: Mystic Chute, a combination Chute-the-Chute and Old Mill, a carousel called Merry-Go-Round, and a Figure 8 roller coaster. The park offered a variety of attractions including an arcade and photograph gallery, rowboats, ponies and burros for kids, and Hale’s Tours of the World – a moving picture panorama.

Hale’s Tours of the World was similar to a modern 4D movie theater experience – the room you were in could rock and shake simulating movement on a train ride, a typical movie for Hale’s Tours of the World.

1906-05-24 The Pittsburgh Press (p6)

The earliest advertisement for West View Park, printed in The Pittsburgh Press, on May 24, 1906, on page 6. This advert ran in multiple newspapers starting the day after the park opened.

West View Park would go on to have a very successful first season. New rides would be added in 1907, including a Katzenjammer Castle funhouse.

To see more about West View Park, check out the Library subsection on this site about West View Park. 

Katzenjammer Castle | 1907-1914

Katzenjammer Castle was a type of funhouse that was commonly seen in the 1890s through the 1910s.

West View Park‘s version was constructed by T.M. Harton Company as part of the updates for West View’s second season of operations, in 1907.

Katzenjammer Castle example

This is an example of a Katzenjammer Castle. This was located at a park in Minnesota in the 1890s.

Katzenjammer is a German word meaning hangover. Alternatively, katzenjammer can also mean confusion, which was the intention for this kind of funhouse. Katzenjammer Castles were fairly similar from park to park – the entrance was on the left, with the exit to the right, and a ticket booth in the middle. An example can be seen above.

1907-05-21 Pittsburgh Post (p6)

A news article in the Pittsburgh Post mentioning the Katzenjammer castle. From May 21, 1907, page 6.

Unfortunately, very little is known about West View’s first funhouse. Katzenjammer remained open through the 1914 season. In 1915, a new funhouse was opened, Hilarity Hall. Below are a couple of descriptions of other Katzenjammer Castles.

Katzenjammer Castle at Brandywine Springs Park in Delaware:

[Katzenjammer] Castle, also a fun house, contained a large slide terminating in a large wooden bowl (10 feet high and 30 feet across). There was also a rotating disc ride where the riders seated themselves as close as possible to the center. When the ride started, the rotation speed was slowly increased until the riders were thrown off the spinning disc. If a rider was lucky enough to get in the center position and not thrown off, the ride operator would deliver a low voltage shock to the rider’s bottom to convince him to move!

Katzenjammer Castle at White City Amusement Park in Manchester, England:

From entrance to exit every step is one of surprises and each surprise is one of laughter making. The “Castle” is the most self supporting of all the attractions in this or any other park, for every visitor becomes an agent to induce others to follow his example. Everyone wants the world to laugh with him, and when he goes through the ” Katzenjammer Castle ” and laughs till his sides ache then he wants all of his friends and neighbours to “go and do likewise.” There is no selfishness in the advice either, for every man is benefitted by a good healthy, hearty laugh, and that is what is guaranteed to all visitors to the ” Castle.”

If you have any information about or pictures of West View Park’s Katzenjammer Castle, please contact me in the comments section below or through The Amusement Parkives Facebook page.

The featured photo is courtesy of John Schalcosky / West View Historical Society