Lake Winnie and the Southern Belle Riverboat
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Lake Winnepesaukah, commonly known as Lake Winnie, is an amusement park located in Rossville, Georgia, just south of Chattanooga, Tennessee. Carl and Minette Dixon opened the park to over 5,000 guests on June 1, 1925. They named it after the Native American word Winnepesaukah, meaning “bountiful waters” or “beautiful lake of the highlands”. The park originally featured the largest swimming pool in the southeastern United States, which debuted in 1926 and was later removed. Its Boat Chute attraction, designed by Carl Dixon, opened in 1927 and is the oldest mill chute water ride of its kind still in operation in the United States.
In its early years, the park’s primary focus was on its water attractions. Later, the park began expanding its dry amusement ride offerings with the introduction of its historic carousel and well-known Cannon Ball roller coaster in the late 1960s. Lake Winnie has grown to over 80 acres (32 ha), featuring 38 rides and a 5-acre (2.0 ha) water park with seven attractions.
In 1924, Carl and Minette Dixon purchased approximately 100 acres (40 ha) surrounding a 9-acre (3.6 ha) lake in Rossville, Georgia. They opened the park on May 30, 1925, entertaining over 5,000 visitors with amenities for boating, fishing, and picnicking. It was named Lake Winnepesaukah in reference to a Native American word that means “bountiful waters” or “beautiful lake of the highlands”. The following year, they opened a 22,000-square-foot (2,000 m2) swimming pool, the largest in the southeastern United States at the time. Carl Dixon later designed a mill chute attraction which began construction in the winter of 1926 and opened as Boat Chute in 1927. The National Amusement Park Historical Association (NAPHA) considers it the oldest operating mill chute in the United States.
In the 1940s and 1950s, several flat rides were added to the park, and in the 1960s, the first roller coasters appeared beginning with Mad Mouse in 1960 and a John C. Allen wooden roller coaster called Cannon Ball in 1967. In the 21st century, the park saw the addition of modern thrill rides such as the drop tower ride OH-Zone! and a compact, looping roller coaster called Fire Ball. The latest addition is the park’s SoakYa water park, a 5-acre (2.0 ha) expansion that debuted in 2013.
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Lake Winnepesaukah is modeled after a classic American fair theme with a midway layout featuring food, games, and amusement rides. The park’s venue is the “Jukebox Junction,” an open air theater that is used for concerts and as a playground for children. The park expanded in 2013 with the addition of a water park called Soak Ya with several water attractions. The park also features the only known working Eyerly Fly-O-Plane attraction in the United States. Family-oriented rides include the Wacky Factory, tilt-a-whirl, matterhorn, balloon race, paratrooper, orbiter, pirate ship, scrambler, a Ferris wheel, Genie, Fire Ball, bumper cars, paddle boats, a tour train, and several other family and thrill rides. Several kiddie rides from the now-defunct Miracle Strip Amusement Park have been relocated to Lake Winnespesaukah, including The Bumble Bees, The Free Whale, and The Wave Swinger swing ride. In 2005, several rides from an amusement park in Panama City Beach, Florida, were brought to Lake Winnie for its 80th birthday celebration.
The first ride at Lake Winnepesaukah – and still one of the most popular at the park – is the Boat Chute, which opened in 1927. According to the National Amusement Park Historical Association (NAPHA), it is the oldest Mill Chute attraction still in operation in the United States.
The Cannon Ball
The Cannon Ball is a wooden roller coaster from legendary designer John Allen of the Philadelphia Toboggan Company. Built in 1967, the roller coaster features a vertical drop of 70 feet (21 m) and 2,272 feet (693 m) of track that spans three quarters of a mile. The ride lasts 90 seconds and has a top speed of 50 miles per hour (80 km/h). Signifying the park’s location adjacent to the Georgia-Tennessee state line, the American, Georgia, and Tennessee flags are at the top of the lift hill.
The oldest ride at the park is the Philadelphia Toboggan Company carrousel number 39, manufactured in 1916. Among the oldest and largest in the country, the carrousel includes 68 hand-painted steeds.
The OH-ZONE! is a 140 feet (43 m), 14-story tall Drop tower ride in which seated riders experience free-fall followed by a 4.6G deceleration upon return to ground level. The 2006 installation of the ride required the Fly-O-Plane to be relocated to another section of the park adjacent to the Cannon Ball roller coaster.
Riders board a two-person raft and slide down curving water filled tubes in the Pipeline Plunge.
Intended primarily for children, the Wacky Worm is a metal roller coaster with a ride vehicle resembling a smiling green worm. The ride has a maximum height of less than 20 feet (6.1 m) and consists of several turns and short “bunny hop” hills.
In 2001, Lake Winnie built their third roller coaster as a tribute to one that used to be in the same exact spot. The original roller coaster was named Mad Mouse and the new steel rendition was originally named Wild Thing, but in 2002 was renamed Wild Lightnin’. The “wild mouse” track layout is similar to the original with numerous hairpin 90 degree turns and short, steep drops.