As you're traveling through the Keystone State, and you stumble upon the small town of Altoona, PA. You'll want to make sure to stop and take a peek at a place that has been a home town favorite for generations, Lakemont Park. It's home of the oldest operating roller coaster in the world, Leap-The-Dips, and a park that is more than meets the eye.
Like many other older parks, Lakemont began with humble beginnings, and started out as a trolley park. Trolley parks were originally the ideas of railroad companies. They built them to encourage weekend train rides with an end destination for families to go and relax at. The Altoona & Logan Valley Railroad opened Lakemont Park in 1894. People came out to enjoy the leisurely life at that time where they could hear a band play, enjoy a picnic with family and friends, or just relax the weekend away. The landmark coaster that originally opened in 1902 is a side friction roller coaster that was proved to be very tame, even at that time. However it was a ride that the whole family could enjoy together. As the years went by, many more rides were brought in, which allowed for more ways to enjoy a summer day. A flood in 1936 pretty much destroyed the whole park, but the major blow was the loss of the Twister roller coaster that was built by Herbert Schmeck.
Time is not always on the side of a park, and with Lakemont, time was running out. The Boyer Bros Candy Company bought the park in hopes to turn it into a major theme park, however the towns people were scared of what was going to become of their park. In 1986, the new owners brought a new name to the once free admission park. Boyertown U.S.A was lack luster from the beginning. Old favorites were ripped out, and a new roller coaster, the Skyliner, never opened. The people that they wanted to show up to support the park never did. The next season wasn't much better, with the exception of the Skyliner finally opening with help from the Dinn Corporation. Leap-the-Dips has been closed since 1985, and as the 1988 season came up, the bank that took over the control of the park sold it at a auction to Ralph Albarano. Albarano quickly laid down plans to bring the park back to its roots. The Lakemont name came back so the people would know that with the classic name, a classic ride would return as well. It wasn't until Memorial Day of 1999 that Leap-the-Dips reopened with the help of many donations and determination to keep the ride alive. With that being done, the park has not looked back once. Even today it continues to add new rides and has watery fun with The Island Water Park,and hopes to continue the enjoyment for years to come.
They say to never judge a book by its cover, and the same can be said with Lakemont Park. You can come in for an hour or two, or stay for the whole day. It's place for the very young and very old to cherish a memory or two. It's the past that keeps this park alive. We are sure to remember the laughs of then, which continue to sound the same today.