The Old Mill or Mill Chutes, later
became Journey to the Center of the Earth. Philadelphia Toboggan
installed it in 1927, and they provided the scenes. The scenes
weren't particularly fancy, but were very effective for that
time. Also in there, we had some Disney scenes. There was one
with Pinocchio and one with the Seven Dwarfs. They were made
out of a rubber mastic or latex type of material, and they were
animated. After we took them out, they were laying around for
a number of years, and later we fixed them up and moved them
to the tunnel our train used to go through.
time I got a call that one of the boats had jumped the chain going
up the hill. So I grabbed a crowbar and went over. This part of
the hill was in a tunnel. So I told the guy out front, "Don't
start the ride while I'm down there." As you can imagine, I'm
just jacking the boat up to put it on the chain and the chain
starts up because the operator out front started the ride. Fortunately,
I had enough sense to jump up and into the boat, otherwise I wouldn't
be here today, I'm sure. The boat caught that six-foot crowbar
and bent it into a perfect circle. I often think I should have
kept that thing; it was a perfect souvenir. You can be sure that
guy didn't last very long at Dorney Park, after he turned on the
switch and almost had me run over by a Mill Chutes boat.
have to tell you, it was truly a Tunnel Of Love. I could
tell you more stories about the passion that went on in
that dark ride. I had a brakeman - a real intelligent
kid who was going to the University of North Carolina.
And he loved the brakeman job, which was a pretty lousy
job, but he had it down to a science. He kept the boats
separated going up the hill, so there would be no collision.
He could operate that without even looking up. He used
to use his feet - and out of the corner of his eye, and
stop it. Then, he'd hear
the alarm and release it, without even looking up. He did most
of his studying when he was a brakeman. The only thing that
interfered sometimes was when the boats would come around a
dark corner right before they got to the brakeman, and the riders
didn't realize there was going to be a brakeman right there.
Like I said, a lot of stuff went on in there, and the brakeman
had front row center, and he used to tell me more stories. He
used to say, "That's a wonderful job. I should pay you for it!"
He's probably at some university teaching right now. A real
great kid - like so many others we had at the park.
recall once there was a fad where kids would dump detergent
into fountains to make the water foam up. And naturally,
some kid dumped detergent in the Mill Chutes. The foam
was so high you couldn't see the tunnel. But prior to
that, I had found out that there was a product that you
could dump into the water that would kill the detergent
very quickly. So fortunately I had some on hand, I dumped
it in and that was the end of that problem.
advent of the tape machines were important when it was
rethemed to Journey to the Center of the Earth in 1970.
There were five or six different scenes with sound effects
- and we kept the tape machines in the office, running
a wire over to the ride. And here again, with the improvement
of electronics and the work of Bill Tracy on this ride,
it changed everything imaginable, all for the good.