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Summer, Sand, and Steam...


Chapter 2

Station Stop Frontier Town
Gateway to the West


Mr. Roose's Railroad's success necessitated an increased hourly capacity so construction was begun on 5 new little coaches. The new train was designed to fulfill 2 purposes: first, to up capacity and secondly, to provide a lighter weight train which Maud could more easily handle.

Design and construction of the little coaches was handled by Mr. Jack Foster, formally with the Southern Railway. Mr. foster planned the coaches to be open air, street car type excursion cars. He utilized under frames from the old coaches of the tram roadway for frames in these new cars. Unlike the CP&LE’s original 6 coaches, these cars were to have wooden floors which would hold down the noise of clanking steel wheels upon steel rail. The trucks were formerly used on tiny sugar cane cars from Louisiana. Three of the new coaches were completed by the 4th of July. The fourth was added shortly before labor day, and the fifth car was completed in the fall of 1966.


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When Mr. Roose asked Jack for a special event to mark the visit of the Lake Shore Pioneer’s one Saturday in May 1966, Jack provided one of the biggest shows in steam. Two double headers, Victoria and 22 on one train and Albert with Maud on the other, running all day. Certainly this was a rarity in the days when only a few steam locomotives can be found under steam in the country!

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Among the attractions added in 66’ were 3 new animated scenes. The lynching of a cattle rustler, and the Loch Ness Monster which swam towards the train at the first trestle. Also, a canoe of attacking Indians in the third lagoon.

1966 marked the last season during which the cabooses were used. Their weight and low capacity made their continued operation unfeasible. They were thereafter stored on the spur track near ghost town.

During the summer plans were made for the construction of Frontier Town, a 19th century Western settlement to be located on the right of way of the CP&LE. The original plans called for the building of a station, the Shoot The Rapids water flume ride, a general store, and a food stand. Before Labor Day ground had already been cleared of brush and surveyors had laid out the little village.

Beautiful bandits, beautiful sunsets, handsome locomotives, and a efficient crew all contributed to make the 66’ season the best yet: 1,044,992 passengers.

The winter of 1966-67’ was a busy one for the CP&LE. In the Engine House Mr. Jack Foster and his son in law, Mr. Charles “Corky” Nance, reflued Albert, finished the last of the little coaches, and rebuilt locomotive number 2 which was christened with the name Jennie K. Jennie was named in honor of Jack Foster’s granddaughter and niece.

Out at the tip of the point, work progressed all winter on Frontier Town. By opening day 67’ the job was still a month from completion. The huge Shoot The Rapids had been delayed by the winter weather.

To accommodate the anticipated increase in attendance because of the Frontier Town stop, the CP&LE inaugurated on a regular basis a 3 train operation. It had proven feasible when first tested in 1966, and during June 67’, while crews were rushing Frontier Town to completion, the 3 trains were operated every busy day. Engineers and Conductors perfected timing and loading procedures. The length of station stops was reduced to 2 minutes.

Also Acme Construction was called in to reroute a portion of the track. The original S curve formed by the winding of the route between the shop and the Cedars Hotel was replaced within a week’s time by a straight piece of track which ran between the shop and the Hermitage. It was hoped that the time saved by the new route would compensate for the 2 minute Frontier Town stop.


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When Frontier Town finally opened in mid July, the CP&LE found it’s capacity taxed to it’s limits by the popularity of Shoot The Rapids. It was evident, more coaches were needed.
Frontier Town was another one of Mr. Roose’s successful pet projects. He devoted much of his time to the little development after he had sold out the major interest in the railroad to Mr. Arthur B. Modell and the Cleveland Browns. Under the agreed upon arrangement, Mr. Roose was to stay on as general manager of the road and Mr. Robert Brodhead, business manager of the Browns, was to represent Mr. Modell.

One of the unfortunate occurrences of 1967 was the burning of Maud’s flues and flue sheet. The little locomotive has the popularity to convert water into steam rapidly. With the hectic schedule, the engineer apparently didn’t realize that his water glass was empty. Maud was withdrawn from service when leaks began to develop in her boiler. The extent of the damage was not immediately ascertained so it was decided to give her a water pressure test. It was a dark moment in the CP&LE shops what Maud leaked water from her sheet, flues, and dome! To repair her tubes would be a very costly job, but without question, Mr. Roose gave the go ahead on the work.
The season ended with a final total of 1,240,222 riders. Planning was already well underway fro 1968.

Approximately one million dollars was to be spent on Frontier Town expansion. A Swiss sky ride, The Frontier Lift, was to be built to compete with the railroad in carrying guests to Frontier Town. It was to begin at the Western Cruise docks, utilize 4 towers in crossing over the lagoons, pass over the CP&LE track near the hanging scene, and finally end south of Shoot The Rapids. Also on the capitol improvements list was the Last Chance Saloon, the Chuck Wagon Inn, the Golden Palace Theatre, and numerous shops and stores. At the Golden Palace, the nation’s top college talent was to stage free vauderville shows every hour.

To increase the railroad’s capacity to meet expanded needs, 6 passenger coaches of 60 seats each were ordered from Lakecraft Welding. The new cars were on the same basic design as the original coaches. These in turn had been patterned after the street car type trains of the Santa Fe & Disneyland R.R.

Opening day saw nearly all of the Frontier Town projects except the Frontier Lift complete. The new cars, however, were still a month from completion. When they finally arrived, they were immediately put into service. The extra coaches made the 3 train operation more feasible. One train was made up of new orange and green cars, the second of the original 6, and the little 5 and the 2 enclosed coaches made up the third cut.

With the increased popularity of Frontier Town, the CP&LE felt a greatly expanded business. Nearly 75% of the park’s visitors rode the rails to Frontier Town. Mr. Meeker’s shows, Shoot The Rapids, all the quaint shops, and a beautiful natural setting combined to make both the CP&LE and Frontier Town the most popular attractions at Cp. The total attendance for the railroad for 68’ was 1,518,313.


Improvements were also made on the trains animations. The Indian canoe, Ghost Town, the elopement and music hall scenes were completely redone, greatly enhancing the right of way and proving that the CP&LE was not only a means of transportation to Frontier Town, but a fine ride in itself.

As the 1968 season ended, 2 more locomotives were purchased for the railroad and a number of plans to increase capacity were being considered.
Over the winter of 1968-69 work was begun on the restoration of number 802 in the Shop. First her cab, saddle tank, smoke box, and boiler jacket were removed. When a cold water test of 200 psi proved that her boiler was still stout, Lake Erie Welding Co. was called in to reflue her under the direction of Mr. Foster. After the tubes were in, a new smoke box was made and put on 802. By the time this work was completed, it was summer and the shop men were kept busy with minor repairs on the other locomotives. Meanwhile, 802 was stored inside as she awaited the completion of her restoration.

As the work on 802 was beginning in the fall of 68’, Henry Sauerset was designing pony trucks for Victoria, Jennie K., and 22. The wheels and assemblies arrived at the shop in November and the process of installation was begun. By early spring all three engines were 2-4-0’s, but Jack was skeptical. He knew that it would be a problem getting those trucks around the CP&LE’s sharper curves. Albert was fired up and pulled the three engines down to the Main Depot. As soon as the entered the station curve, their pony wheels climbed the rail. They did not have a sufficient lateral movement. It took Jack almost two months of work to correct Mr. Sauerset’s miscalculations. But by opening day all five restored engines were ready.

Another project completed over the winter months was the repainting of all the coaches. The cars that had arrived in 68’ with green roofs and orange side posts were repainted with deep blue roofs and side posts and gray fronts.

The 1969 season began with a very successful opening day. Three trains were kept busy by guests who wanted to survey the improvements at Frontier Town. The major new attraction at the little Western village was the Runaway mine train. Construction was not actually completed until mid July, but when the ride opened it markedly increased the railroad’s patronage. Most of the ride had been built alongside the CP&LE right of way, so riders were able to watch the trains rumble up the wooden hills and down the dips.


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The date July 4th, 1969 will be one long remembered by all those who worked on the railroad that season. During the morning and afternoon heavy crowds were riding between the Main Depot and Frontier Town. Then about 7 p.m. the skies began to darken. Within 10 minutes a terrific storm swept across the bay with 70 mph winds and heavy rains. At the time there were three trains operating. One was held at the Main Depot, another at Frontier Town, and the third, which was running along the bay at the time pulled into Frontier Town with Jennie at the point.

Trees were falling along the right of way and at Frontier Town. A thousand guests crowded into the town’s shops and buildings. For hours the storm raged on. In the Golden Palace, the cast presented continuous performances to keep spirits up. With the high winds the Frontier Lift could not operate, with trees down on the tracks the railroad was closed, and with power lines down on the perimeter road, no trams could get through. Frontier Town was isolated.

Then in the rain, wind, and lightning, Charles Nance walked to track with only a axe in hand cleared the right of way. With the storm still raging, trains began to creep back to the midway station. Employees walked ahead of the trains to make sure the tracks remained clear. By 11:30 the last train was in. it had been one furious Fourth!

July and August were busy as usual. Three trains ran nearly every day. On two separate days, nearly 60,000 passengers were carried: The largest number of guests on a ride in a single day ever at Cedar Point. By the end of the summer the two mile road had hosted over 3 million people.

Next Chapter comin' soon!~

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2006, John Marhesic, All Rights Reserved. version2.1
 
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