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The Riverview Park Bobs was quite possibly the best roller coaster ever built. Or so we in this generation have been told. It was built for Chicago's Riverview Park in 1924 by Prior & Church, two of the leading coaster designers of their day, and constructed by Harry Traver's firm (Traver himself did not design the ride, but for years it was assumed he had. He was a nut, that Harry Traver.)

The Bobs wasn't all that tall; it topped out at only 87 feet. But it made for an incredible ride. The laterals were fierce, the track was twisted like you wouldn't believe and the P&C cars of their day were little more than padded chariots with a single lapbar. Danger, danger, danger... and yet, kids loved it.

Riverview Park was closed and ignobly demolished in 1967. It's a parking lot today. You'd never have known what awesome stuff was there if you saw it.

Recreations of the Bobs exist for the NoLimits coaster simulator and they're fun and all, but today I found the best goddamn on-ride footage I've ever seen of the ride. I'd seen someone's home movie, I think, but it shook so much you couldn't really tell what was going on. Apparently this bit of footage was taken by a Chicago television station for Movietone News, which was able to securely mount a camera to the front car. The ride footage turns out really, really, really smooth and shows just how powerful the damn thing was. I can see how it'd have easily garnered claims of the best; its layout, speed, thrills and unexpected dives make it a far more exciting ride than the Coney Island Cyclone, which to me right now is the paragon of still-standing wooden coasters.

It's a shame you probably couldn't get away with a coaster like the Bobs today. The insurance would prohibit it. But at least we can ride it on the Internet. Or work on our time machines.

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