The American Eagle was Six Flags Great America's first big coaster in Gurnee. It opened 29 years ago. Through the years more and more roller coasters have been added and the most recent addition is one many Chicagoans remember- Kiddieland's Little Dipper, which was the most popular ride at the Melrose Park amusement park from the 50s until it closed in 2009. Everything at Kiddieland was auctioned off.
Six Flags bought it, and now the Little Dipper is getting a big rehab. New wood had to be used to replace much of the old wood from the original dipper. As a matter of fact, only about 10-percent of the old structure is being used at Six Flags.
"Back then the wood probably wasn't treated and this stuff is treated and it'll last a long time. The hand rails weren't up to OSHA standards years ago. They were too low. Now they'll up to standard," said Joe Rygiel, superintendent of project.
Six Flags paid $36,000 for the Little Dipper. The tough part is the rebuilding as there weren't any blueprints.
"We brought our people down there along with an engineering firm to basically shoot everything in place and do it "As Built" of the ride there in Melrose Park. That gave us something to work off of for resetting it back up here," said Gary Pohlman, dir. of construction.
The coaster's six cars have been repaired, repainted, and rehabbed. The structure, of course, will be painted white.
"It's going to be the Little Dipper that people remember. It's going to be the ride that they remember when they first rode a roller coaster," said Jennifer Savage, spokesperson for Six Flags.
The Little Dipper should be ready to roll by Memorial Day. Don't forget to bring your memories.