A Shivering and Shaking Adventure!

Circa 1950s visitors to Bay County’s Wenona Beach amusement park (1887-1964) enjoy a rickety, thrilling ride on the wooden Jackrabbit roller coaster, built in 1914. The amusement park, located on the Saginaw Bay shoreline (foot of today’s Patterson Road, Bangor Township), once enticed largely regional crowds. There, visitors sought relaxation or entertainment, including the beach, boardwalk, rides, food concessions, casino, entertainers, dancing, and roller skating.

Local author James R. Watson (Wenona Beach, 1988, 2014) describes the thrill of riding in the Jackrabbit’s two (or three) tandem cars:

About 30 passengers were hoisted up the steep 75-foot-high first hill by a huge greased chain that ran in a wooden trough. A safety ratchet would click loudly in a long notched plate as the cars slowly ascended…. There was a moment of silence as the car perched at the hill’s top. And then with a roar, the car plunged down the hill’s backside, shaking the ground. Screams followed… [and] another shorter ratchet could be heard as it [climbed] up the next hill….

And, Bay City Times columnist Dick Hardy (1928-1996) recalls (Bay City Memories, 1996) an ongoing rumor that contributed to the ride’s thrill:

In the immediate Post War days (World War II)… it filled the bill for us. It wasn’t so much the hills and drops and sharp curves, but rather fear that the thing would collapse before the ride was over. It was built of wood and every so often you could see a board on the ground that had apparently fallen off. Rumor had it that it had been condemned forever….

The former park site is now occupied by Wenona Beach Estates Mobile Home Park. Photo courtesy of Bay County Historical Society.


Circa 1950s visitors to Bay County’s Wenona Beach amusement park (1887-1964) enjoy a rickety, thrilling ride on the wooden Jackrabbit roller coaster, built in 1914. The amusement park, located on the Saginaw Bay shoreline (foot of today’s Patterson Road, Bangor Township), once enticed largely regional crowds. There, visitors sought relaxation or entertainment, including the beach, boardwalk, rides, food concessions, casino, entertainers, dancing, and roller skating.

Local author James R. Watson (Wenona Beach, 1988, 2014) describes the thrill of riding in the Jackrabbit’s two (or three) tandem cars:

About 30 passengers were hoisted up the steep 75-foot-high first hill by a huge greased chain that ran in a wooden trough. A safety ratchet would click loudly in a long notched plate as the cars slowly ascended…. There was a moment of silence as the car perched at the hill’s top. And then with a roar, the car plunged down the hill’s backside, shaking the ground. Screams followed… [and] another shorter ratchet could be heard as it [climbed] up the next hill….

And, Bay City Times columnist Dick Hardy (1928-1996) recalls (Bay City Memories, 1996) an ongoing rumor that contributed to the ride’s thrill:

In the immediate Post War days (World War II)… it filled the bill for us. It wasn’t so much the hills and drops and sharp curves, but rather fear that the thing would collapse before the ride was over. It was built of wood and every so often you could see a board on the ground that had apparently fallen off. Rumor had it that it had been condemned forever….

The former park site is now occupied by Wenona Beach Estates Mobile Home Park. Photo courtesy of Bay County Historical Society.

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