Today, log flumes and water rides alike continue to dot even the smallest of theme parks. Some water rides are more popular nowadays than others, and many choose the quick, soaking splash of shoot-the-chute attractions over a three minute ride that leads to a mild plunge. Yet thankfully, log flumes are rarely overlooked thanks to such rides as Disney's Splash Mountain and Knott's Timber Mountain Log Ride. After all, the ride does have an interesting history about it.
The common log flume is unanimously based on the sawmill waterway of the same name, which transported logs down mountainous terrain in watertight troughs in the ninteenth and early twentieth centuries. The inspection of these log troughs were carried out by flume herders, who checked the flow of water at various points. Occasionally these flume herders would even ride down the flume in small boats, sometimes for aid in inspecting it, but often merely for the thrilling expierience. Thus, that experience was the obvious precursor of the modern log flume. And such an expierience was brought along in 1963. A two year old Six Flags Over Texas was looking for a company to deliver a new type of ride, which would be the first of its kind. And that company was none other than Arrow Dynamics, who is widely known for their innovational attractions. They devised a unique water ride which provided an expierence similar to the one those flume herders endured when coming down the mountain. Six Flags gave the ride the name El Aserradero, and because of its uniqueness the public jumped over it. The ride proved so popular that the park constructed a second log flume right next to it in 1968.
But Six Flags Over Texas wasn't the only park to discover this new attraction. Cedar Point got in on the action as well in 1963 with their Arrow Dynamics log flume, Mill Race. And another log flume opened with Six Flags Over Georgia's debut in 1967. The Six Flags chain recieved a third Arrow log flume four years later with the opening of Six Flags Over Mid-America. However, just a year later came two log flumes which presented a first for water rides. Jet Stream, Six Flags Magic Mountain's second log flume after Log Jammer a year before, and Coal Cracker at Hersheypark both opened in 1972 and 1973, respectively. These two log flumes were the first Arrow hydro-flumes, as well as the first flumes to have a double channeled final drop. This double drop helped to dramatically increase capacity, as well as provide further evolution of the modern log flume. Soon after, the addition of log flumes around the country started to pick up steam. In 1974, Great Adventure debuted with their log flume. It proved so popular that they immediately followed with a second log flume in 1975, this time a hydro-flume, Riptide. This flume, like Jet Stream and Coal Cracker, utilized all the water through it from a pump in the final drop, and featured a double channel. And 335 miles away at Kennywood, Log Jammer, another Arrow Dynamics log flume, was constructed. Such installations continued throughout the rest of the decade, and eventually in 1982, Cedar Point recieved their third log flume (replacing Shoot the Rapids from 1968), White Water Landing.
Eventually however, Arrow Dynamics became one of several companies to manufacture log flumes. O.D. Hopkins began offering their log flume in 1981, and installed one of their first ones in 1984 at Funtown Splashtown USA. Hopkins' log flume was less expensive than Arrow's version since they gave parks an option to buy the lift, drop and logs, and then merely pour concrete for the rest of the ride on ground level according to Hopkins' design. Hopkins followed up with an installation at Knoebels, simply named the Flume, and continued to install several other flumes throughout the 1990's including Paul Bunyan's Log Chute at Nickelodeon Universe. However, after Hopkins and Arrow, log flumes began to lose steam and become rather dated over time. Many parks with older installations were forced to remove them due to age, and many replaced them with modern coasters or even modern water rides. It seemed that the log flume was now a thing of the past. However, more recently, Intamin has revived the modern log flume with their 2010 version of Shoot the Rapids at Cedar Point, presumely named after the former one which operated from 1968 to 1981. This new ride is primarily a shoot-the-chutes style ride, but incorporates many of the elements that have been possessed by log flumes alike over the years. Log flumes thus will never truly be finished... the recent example proves that log flumes are actually quite possibly still alive and well. And why shouldn't they be? After all, log flumes have had an interesting history about them.