After exploring the city of Santa Cruz, we went to the beach to enjoy the boardwalk and explore it. It was during the summer so there are a lot of people in the area. We walked around passing the volleyball area where people were playing than on the boardwalk.
Deelow and I won’t be riding any rides today so we entered through the main entrance and we just followed the signs where the history of the boardwalk was posted.
“The boardwalk, built in 1904 by Fred Swanton, a local businessman, sits on the remains of bathhouses constructed in the 1860s. In 1864, a recent divorcee, Mary Lidell, and her son opened the first saltwater baths west of the Mississippi at the mouth of the San Lorenzo River. Their baths’ popularity encouraged many other families to construct saltwater bathhouses of their own in the area. Bathing tourism was very popular during this time, and many felt that the saltwater of the Pacific had healing and health-promoting qualities.
By 1893, the multitude of bathhouses were consolidated into a single enterprise, called The Neptune Baths (nicknamed Salt Water Plunge), located in the area that Neptune’s Kingdom still stands in today. Although the bathhouses have long since been transformed into roller coasters and arcades, their popularity led to a tourism boom and contributed to new development and settlement along the river.”
After looking at it we looked inside the Neptune’s Kingdom which was now an arcade and we enjoyed it by buying some candies and sweets, Then we moved on to the rides.
“In 1904 Fred Swanton expanded the saltwater baths into Neptune’s Casino. The casino included 500 dressing rooms, a heated indoor saltwater swimming pool “The Plunge”, a café and grill, ballroom, and two rooftop gardens. Unfortunately, Swanton was faced with a multitude of setbacks, from fires to earthquake damage to misguided investments and consequently sold Neptune’s Casino and the surrounding boardwalk to the Santa Cruz Seaside Company in 1912. They run the Boardwalk to this day.”
So we explored or should I say looked at the rides and looked for historical stuff and here are the two historical rides in the park.
Ace Roller Coaster
American Coaster Enthusiasts (ACE) recognizes Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk’s Giant Dipper as an Ace Roller Coaster Landmark, a designation reserved for rides of historic significance.
The 75-Foot high wood coaster officially opened on May 17, 1924, replacing the 1908 L.A. Thompson scenic railway, with a trach length of over 2,700 feet and an intial drop of 65 feet 6 inches, the innovative track design with articulating trains included tight twists, a thrilling serpentine tunnel, a graceful fan turn an the unusual curved station. Designed by Frederick Church (1878-1936), it was constructed in less than seven weeks for $50,000 by Arthur Looff (1888-1970) who described the ride as a “combination earthquake, balloon ascension, and aeroplane drop.”
Over time, the stylish cars have been updated, adding to the charm of this well maintained, double out-and-back coaster, which earned National Historic Landmark status in February 1987, while it has starred as a backdrop in several Hollywood Films, this rare seaside coaster is best enjoyed during Golden sunsets and after dark when tracer lights magically accentuate its legendary profile.”
1911 Looff Carousel
The hand-carved merry-go-round has been turning children’s seaside dreams into golden memories since 1911.
In August of 1911 one of the great carousel carvers of all time delivered the merry-go-round to the Boardwalk. Danish woodcarver Charles I.D. Looff had achieved success with his first complete carousel placed at Coney Island in 1875 and went on to create several more around the country, including Santa Cruz. Charles’ son Arthur Looff later built the Boardwalk’s Giant Dipper.
Several of the Boardwalk’s carousel horses display their teeth in open smiles; others are more serious, with a gentle demeanor and closed mouths. Each horse is unique, with colorful details, from swords at their sides to garlands of flowers around their necks. Real horse hair tails, muscular bodies, and decorative, jeweled trappings also add to the charm. In all, the carousel is home to 73 horses (71 jumpers and two standers) and two Roman chariots decorated with the heads of rams and cherubs.
It is also one of only a handful of carousels in the world still featuring a working ring dispenser. Rings were once hand loaded by “ring boys,” as the young employees were called. The process was mechanized in 1950. Steel rings are used today, with brass plated rings added on special occasions. Riders on outside horses can grab rings from a dispenser as they spin, then toss them into a large clown’s gaping mouth, rewarded by bells and flashing lights.
Music for the carousel is provided by a 342-pipe Ruth und Sohn band organ built in 1894. The “Ruth” as it is affectionately called has played alongside the carousel since 1911. The rare, German-made music machine received a beautiful new facade and complete refurbishment in 2009. In 2007, a rare Wurlitzer 165 Band Organ from San Francisco’s (now closed) Playland-at-the-Beach amusement park was purchased by the Boardwalk. Both organs can be seen (and heard!) in the carousel building.”
“Thrilling riders since 1924, the Giant Dipper roller coaster, with its trademark red and white structure, spectacular view of the Monterey Bay, and speedy digs and curves, keeps generations of riders coming back for more. The Giant Dipper has thrilled over 50 million riders. In 1987, the Giant Dipper was designated a National Historic Landmark.”
After that we turned around and left the boardwalk we walked in the sands and dug out a foot in the soft sands and took some pics of the boardwalk. Then we went to the pier and see the shops and got curious about what the people were doing by the rails. We also joined in and saw some cute seals sunbathing by the docks. We watch for a while, then later moved on. We cross under the pier and looked for a spot. We found one by the end of the beach so we put our stuff down. Lay down our towels and swam in the cold, blue waters of the ocean. It was so cold about 60 degrees Fahrenheit, but once your use to it it was way easier.
We also sunbathed after we got tired swimming around, and we talked and ate and just relaxed. After an hour or more we called it a day, got our stuff and headed back to the car.
Here is the link for more information: