Posted: September 17, 2012 in Green Bay, Photography, Structures
Tags: , , , , , ,

Green Bay’s Bay Beach Amusement Park is home to the Zippin Pippin, a wooden roller coaster whose claim to fame is that it was Elvis Presley’s favorite ride. The Pippin, originally built in 1912 in Memphis,  had been decommissioned and was pretty much a useless mess o’ scrap until it was dismantled and moved to Green Bay in  2009 for a price tag of around 3.8 million dollars. Essentially, the city bought the name and (I think) the cars. The layout, I guess. All the wood and the hardware?  That’s branny new. Which is pretty much the whole operation.

Now, for me this always brings to mind the old vaudeville routine: ” Hey, Mister! You wanna buy George Washington’s hatchet? It’s authentic: the head’s only been replaced twice and then three new handles. Still works great.”

Sooooo…did Elvis Presley really ride on our iteration of the Zippin Pippin? You decide.

Any way you look at it, it’s a cool story, a cool structure  and a major draw for visitors to the Park.

I’ve actually ridden the Pippin–just once. I went this summer with an 11-year-old escort. (Driver stayed on the ground, gimlet eyes ever alert to potential dangers from feral children.) My feeling was that I love to photograph the structure,  so it would be exceedingly lame if I didn’t actually get on and ride at some point.

I don’t know if the half-mile course took 30 seconds, 30 minutes or 30 days. My eyes slammed shut at the first 40-foot drop and then I not only spoke in tongues, I screamed in tongues until we got to the end. When we exited the ride, I hugged my buddy and thanked her for her encouragement.

That really helped,” I said. “I know I’m not your mom, but when you said ‘That’s all right now, Mama!’  I felt a whole lot better.”

She just looked at me like I was still crazy from the ride.  “Huh? I was too busy screaming to say anything!”


Thank you. Thank you very much.

Tomorrow: Underneath the Pippin!

  1. jlheuer says:

    You’re a better woman than I am. No riding for me, I’ll just enjoy your pictures.

  2. Those old things are amazing structures…for all their visual complexity, they’re incredibly simple. And, like Elvis, they can go on forever, anywhere. By the way, you’re funny…I wonder how many readers caught the reference of your “…mama” comment.

    • Patricia says:

      I so agree with you. And there is a certain comfort there. Had this been a modern metal marvel, I would never set foot on or even near the ride. The wood? I felt safe. Absolutely crazy.
      (,,,and thanks for catching the “mama” thing.)

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