Dahlonega Mine Train
Specific Type: Mine Train
Opening on June 16, 1967, Six Flags Over Georgia would become only the second park to open under Six Flags, after Six Flags Over Texas opened up in Arlington in 1961. Upon opening, the park had just a handful of rides including the Log Jamboree, Jean Ribaut’s Adventure, the Six Flags Railroad,Happy Motoring Freeway, two Trabant rides, the Tales of the Okefenokee, the Hanson cars, Mini Mine Train, Sky Buckets, and the Dahlonega Mine Train. Of all these original rides and attractions, only four remain in operation to this day, the biggest of which is the Dahlonega Mine Train.
The Dahlonega Mine Train, located in the section of the park known as Peachtree Square, features three lift hills, and a low, terrain-hugging layout that winds through the wooded and hilly landscape. The layout is so low to the terrain in fact, that its highest elevation above the ground is just 37 feet. It was named after Dahlonega, Georgia, which served as the center of “America’s first Gold Rush” back in 1828 in northern Georgia.
Back in 1967, when the Dahlonega Mine Train first opened, it had the ability to run up to four trains at once, giving the ride a huge capacity, but its capacity was diminished down to a maximum of three trains after it was refurbished. In the mid-1990s, the O.D. Hopkins Company was brought in to rebuild and refurbish the ride, giving the coaster new track, replacing parts of the wooden support structure with steel, and creating a fully computerized control system. As a result of the new automated control system, the coaster is only allowed to run a maximum of three trains due to the limited number of “block sections” (The four "blocks are the three lift hills and the station).
Since its opening, the coasters has experienced a fair share of “roll backs” near the end of the ride, when the train fails to make it up the final hill out of the tunnel and rolls back inside. In the event of a roll back here, lights in the tunnel are turned on, and guests are unloaded and walk up a stairway. The train is then winched back up into the station, and operations may resume. Like many older Arrow Mine Train coasters, the lap bars are manually locked and released by a foot pedal at the front of each car that the ride attendant must press down, and all lap bars for each car are lowered equally. Each car also features a flange, rather than up-stop wheels, to prevent the trains from coming up off the track.
The ride on Dahlonega Mine Train starts off with a small dip leaving the station and a flat U-turn to the right, where the train rides straight through the ride house that houses the coasters transfer tracks and storage sheds. Leaving the main house, the train curves left, then right in a small S-curve, turning 90-degrees to the right at the end to line the train up for the first lift hill, which is perpendicular to the station and transfer-track house. After ascending the small lift, the train drops slightly then flattens back out before the track begins turning and banking to the right, aiming the train towards the starting point of the lift hill. Once the turnaround is completed, the train gradually descends downward, banking and turning to the left at the last minute, just a few feet away from the bottom of the lift hill. Just above the ground, the track then drops down into a small trench, crossing just feet below a small hill, then rises back up slightly and turns around to the right, popping over that small hill in a figure-eight style. The train then drops back down to the ground level before traversing another small “bunny hop” hill into another earthen trench. From here, the train banks and turns 90-degrees to the left, rises slightly, then turns 90-degrees to the right to line up the second lift hill.
This second lift is much shorter than the first, perhaps only as long as a single train. At the top of the hill, the train dips down slightly then flattens out again, just like the first hill and many hills on the older Arrow model mine train coasters. Traveling slowly, the train enters a small trench lined by a wooden wall as it begins a wide, flat, unbanked turnaround to the left. Straightening out, the track then begins banking to the right before entering a tight downward helix that takes riders around nearly one full revolution. Straight out of the helix, the train bounds over another small bunny hill, then pulls quickly skywards and to the right, leveling out as it completes the 180-degree, lateral filled U-turn towards the rides final lift.
After another slow crawl to the top of the short lift, the ride again dips slightly before leveling out for another wide, flat U-turn. This particular turn actually takes riders over part of the “pond” used by Splashwater Falls, but most importantly, prepares riders for the rides exciting finale. Leaving the turnaround, the train passes through a small shed, shielding riders from seeing what’s up ahead. Leaving this tunnel/shed, riders see only the antique car ride, but no track, ahead. Suddenly, the bottom drops out and the train plummets below the ground, entering a tunnel under the antique car ride. Once underground, at its top speed of approximately 29 mph, the train quickly breaks to the right then twists back to the left as it pulls up and out of the earth, hitting a short break run before the station, thus ending the 2,300-foot long ride through the woods.
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