Big Dipper (Geauga Lake)

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Big Dipper
Part of roller coaster, Geauga Lake Park, Geauga Lake, Ohio (77801).jpg
1940s postcard view
Geauga Lake
Coordinates41°20′57″N 81°22′41″W / 41.349145°N 81.377964°W / 41.349145; -81.377964Coordinates: 41°20′57″N 81°22′41″W / 41.349145°N 81.377964°W / 41.349145; -81.377964
Opening date1925 (1925)
Closing dateSeptember 16, 2007 (2007-09-16)
General statistics
DesignerJohn A. Miller
ModelOut and Back roller coaster
Lift/launch systemChain lift hill
Height65 ft (20 m)
Length2,680 ft (820 m)
Speed32 mph (51 km/h)
Height restriction48 in (122 cm)
Trains2 trains with 4 cars. Riders are arranged 2 across in 3 rows for a total of 24 riders per train.
Big Dipper at RCDB
Pictures of Big Dipper at RCDB

Big Dipper was a wooden roller coaster located at the defunct Geauga Lake amusement park in Bainbridge Township, Ohio. Originally opened in 1925 as Sky Rocket, it was renamed Clipper in the late 1940s and eventually Big Dipper in 1969. It was the oldest operating roller coaster in Ohio and seventh-oldest in the United States when it closed in 2007. Designed by John A. Miller, the Big Dipper was also one of the last remaining roller coasters in the world from the legendary designer. American Coaster Enthusiasts awarded the coaster its ACE Coaster Classic and ACE Coaster Landmark designations. Efforts to sell, preserve, and restore the ride were unsuccessful. The ride was demolished on October 17, 2016.[1]


For the 1925 season, Geauga Lake amusement park underwent an expansion that included the addition of Sky Rocket, a wooden roller coaster designed by legendary designer John A. Miller. Miller designed over 140 roller coasters and contributed over 100 patented technologies to the roller coaster industry, some of which are still being used on modern-day roller coasters.[2] Sky Rocket was considered the largest of its time, described as "mammoth" by the industry with a height of 65 feet (20 m) and a track length of 2,680 feet (820 m).[3][4] It was renamed Clipper in the late 1940s, and then again to Big Dipper in 1969 after Funtime purchased the park.[5]

Big Dipper underwent major renovations in 1980. The ride was retracked by Martin & Vleminckx.[6]


Big Dipper's train on the first hill

On September 21, 2007, Cedar Fair announced that the amusement park section of Geauga Lake would close and only the water park, Wildwater Kingdom, would remain open leaving the future of the Big Dipper uncertain. As a result of once being the oldest operating roller coaster in Ohio, many have been concerned about its fate, including preservationists and roller coaster enthusiasts. The coaster originally sold at an auction of the park's rides in June 2008, and minor damage to the structure was repaired in late 2008.[7]

The Big Dipper was later listed for sale on internet auction website eBay in 2010 with a starting bid of $9,500 and a "buy it now" price of $65,000. The auction ended on September 6, 2010, without a single bid.[8] On September 30, 2010 two roller coaster enthusiasts teamed up to buy the roller coaster, but the deal fell through on January 11, 2011, as a result of various legal issues surrounding the sale.[9] The enthusiasts had intended to disassemble and store the coaster in an area close to the park.[10] The roller coaster has been closed since 2007.[4][11] On September 21, 2016, it was reported that Cedar Fair was planning to dismantle and remove the ride.[12] In early October 2016, a Bainbridge County trustee confirmed that demolition would begin within several weeks.[13] The ride was demolished on October 17, 2016.


  1. ^ Gaetjens, Bob (September 21, 2016). "Safety is issue when people trespass on Cedar Fair land". Aurora Advocate. Retrieved September 23, 2016.
  2. ^ Janet (May 24, 2010). "Coaster group hopes to save Geauga Lake's Big Dipper". Sandusky Register. Archived from the original on June 11, 2015. Retrieved January 12, 2017.
  3. ^ "Geauga Lake-Sea World History". Aurora Historical Society. Retrieved June 11, 2015.
  4. ^ a b Marden, Duane. "Big Dipper  (Geauga Lake)". Roller Coaster DataBase. Retrieved June 11, 2015.
  5. ^ Wendel, Kim (November 5, 2009). "ACE: Geauga Lake's 'Big Dipper' gets landmark designation". WKYC. Retrieved June 11, 2015.[permanent dead link]
  6. ^ "Retracking". Martin & Vleminckx. Archived from the original on November 25, 2013. Retrieved November 17, 2013.
  7. ^ "Cleveland News, Northeast Ohio News |". Archived from the original on February 9, 2013. Retrieved May 29, 2015.
  8. ^ Grzegorek, Vince (September 8, 2010). "Big Dipper, Famous Ohio Rollercoaster, For Sale on eBay". Retrieved January 12, 2017.
  9. ^ "Final Update". Save the Big Dipper. January 11, 2011. Archived from the original on May 14, 2011. Retrieved January 12, 2017.
  10. ^ "About The Project". Save the Big Dipper. Archived from the original on April 10, 2015. Retrieved January 12, 2017.
  11. ^ Glasier, David (May 28, 2015). "Only memories remain at Geauga Lake Amusement Park". The News-Herald. Retrieved May 29, 2015.
  12. ^ Gaetjens, Bob (September 21, 2016). "Safety is issue when people trespass on Cedar Fair land". Aurora Advocate. Retrieved September 23, 2016.
  13. ^ "Geauga Lake's Big Dipper to be demolished". WOIO. Retrieved January 12, 2017.

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