Noah's Ark debuted in 1924, the huge boat rocking slowly atop the mountain that appeared on Old Orchard Street.
It was an instant sensation and a gleefully anticipated perennial attraction for generations of visitors to the beach.
The life-like figures of Noah, his family members and various animal friends that adorned the Noah's Ark exterior were wooden carvings painted to withstand the elements. Since the William H. Dentzel factory's main product was wooden carousel horses, it was well equipped to produce such carved figures for the Noah's Ark attractions.
I joyfully trod the planks of the Ark as often as my parents would allow. The pathways were strewn with obstacles, such as air blasts from floor switches and the "lily pads", wooden disks over a trough of water that would tilt at random as you stepped on them. On the deck, we were directed by an attendant to sit on a wooden bench to have our picture taken by a fake camera, only to leap off the bench after he pushed a button to deliver an electric shock from metal cleats embedded in the seat. Fun!
George recalls: "I think I went through 10 times in five days. An angry-looking Noah head was embedded in the wall behind a screen as were some animal heads that lit up, triggered by floor pads. Horns and whistles sounded when they lit up. There were waist-high rubber "snakes" protruding from both sides of the final dark corridor and a blow hole at the end. You could take the spiral slide or the "Chicken Walk"on your way out. There were two rubber chickens in a cage over the exit to emphasize the point."
The Ark sits peacefully through the snowy Maine winter, awaiting the return of summer and the sound of laughter.
Cyndy Hall took this photo of the Ark in June of 1969, less than one month before the disastrous fire that would end forever the Ark's 45 year reign over Old Orchard Beach. This may well be the last photo of the Ark ever taken.
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