Sometimes you strike gold where you least expect it. And, if you're a dark ride afficionado, you'll want to stake a claim at Salem, New Hampshire's Canobie Park, host to the impressive "The Mine of Lost Souls."
Not only does this contemporary dark ride pay tribute to the classic rides of old; it's a tribute to the perseverance of the owners and maintenance staff of Canobie Lake Park.
Shortly after it debuted in 1985 as the "Haunted Mine," failing stunts plagued the ride. Rather than throw in the towel, Canobie threw in cash, commissioning Florida's Sally Corporation to rework the ride from beginning to end in 1992.

 
The final product combines humor, suspense,the macabre and little quirkiness - all adding up to a unique and enjoyable experience for contemporary and classic dark ride fans alike.

Just the fact the ride exists says a lot for the park. It's one of three dark rides left in New England, a region that was once a mecca for these attractions. In fact, Canobie had just leveled its aging Pretzel ride, the "Swamp" (read "The Funhouses and Dark Rides of Canobie Lake" article on this site) when it broke ground for a new dark ride. As Operations Director Tom Morrow recalls, park officials saw a trade

 


publication ad placed by a New Jersey-based ride designer, and hired him to design the Lost Mine.The park staff constructed the building and fašade, purchasing cars resembling mining carts, as well as the track system, from the former Italy-based SDC, which made the Galaxi coasters and is now S&MC GmbH Structures and Machines in Germany. Among the stunts were a Pirate ship in a water basin, and a collapsing mine shaft.
"After a while, some tricks didn't work, recalls Mr. Morrow. "It got to the point that it fell below the high standards we've established for our amusements. It was time for a change." So park officials turned to Sally Corporation. A representative toured the ride and assessed the situation-at-hand. "Before he drew up plans and a story line, he offered us three options: (A) being a children's ride, (B) being a middle of the road ride, and (C) being a gory ride. We took B. I'd say it's about the fourth most popular ride in the park. We made a wise decision to upgrade it in 1992". Adds ride mechanic John Reed: " I really enjoy maintaining this ride. It's very rewarding, especially when I see all the people lining up to ride it and the various looks on their faces when they disembark."
Hence, the "The Mine of Lost Souls" was conceived. Sally Corporation's plan was not to gut the entire ride but to incorporate some of the existing stunts and scenery into the story line. However, Sally added many of its distinctive animated figures and special effects to put a completely different spin on the ride.
Today, the ride stays true to Sally's 1992 story line: An exploration into an 1880 mine in which you encounter "trapped souls for all ages in time." Or, to paraphrase the animated figure in the fašade window, Jeremiah Jones - two boys from Salem, Bobby and Billy Hollander discovered gold in the cave early in 1891. That same summer the Policy
 
Mine Company began mining gold. The two boys later disappeared and haven't been heard from since. "Tell you what, you go take the ride and let me know what you find. If you don't come back, well, I'll know there's truth to the tale, won't I?" Jeremiah asks with a sheepish grin.
In essence, your trip back in time to this 19th century mining project eventually brings you face-to-face with the Grim Reaper who opens a portal into a Pharaoh's tomb. The common link - lost souls. Sound like fun? Take the ride and see for yourself.