The Zip at Portland, OR's Oaks Park

The Zip was a “rib-tickler” wooden roller coaster located at Oaks Park in Portland, OR, built in 1927.


The Zip. Image: Mark Moore 

Oaks Park was built as a trolley park for the Oregon Water Power & Railway Company in 1905, and unlike most trolley parks, is still in existence.

At 60’ tall, the Zip was designed to be as thrilling and intense as possible, and was a shorter version of similar coaster models designed by Harry Traver, such as Ontario's Crystal Beach Cyclone and Massachusetts' Revere Beach Lightning. This model was known, ironically, as the Cyclone Safety Coaster.

One unique element of these designs was the use of steel for the structure, which helped improve maintenance and prevent fires, which was a huge issue for early wooden coasters. However, with the incredible curves and forces of the ride, steel would not delay the inevitable maintenance issues of this and other Traver designed rides.

These coasters had nearly no straight track at all through their layout, and could be considered an early inspiration for more modern wooden coasters, especially those from Great Coasters International, who use a lot of curves and turns in their layout, albeit with much better engineering and less forces than were common on the Traver models. 

However, as these rides were quite intense, rider complaints, injuries, and insurance costs would doom this ride after only seven years, being torn down in 1934.

Despite this, thanks to the magic of NoLimits, it's possible to see what the layout would have looked like, in the video below. 


Thanks as always for reading!

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