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Rail Blazer At Six Flags St. Louis


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I recently visited Six Flags St. Louis and rode River King Mine Train. The ride (for those of you that haven't been there) was half of a set of (semi-)racing mine trains.

 

When I first visited the park in the early eighties in my early teens, the side that is now open used to be closed the majority of the time, while the other side (which has since been relocated to another park and called Big Bad John-and was the far better ride) used to be the default running part of the ride.

 

In 1983-84 (I forget) the side that is now currently open was re-imagained as a stand up coaster with new trains called Rail Blazer. The ride did not run well (guests per hour) and had a tragic accident where a rider was (apparently) thrown from her restraints, fell a couple stories and died from head trauma, all within the first 8 weeks of it's debut.

 

The ride was shut down immediately, and only opened again (with the former mine train set-up) because the other side of the ride was relocated/sold to make room for Ninja.

 

My question/challenge is this- even though it had a brief run at the park, why can't I find ANY pictures of Rail Blazer anywhere? (Other than the picture from that year's brochure-which I actually have that park-brochure for myself in a shoebox somewhere).

 

I've seen old You-Tube footage of the accident report, and I've see one or two pictures of riderless trains from that era- but surely someone, somewhere has photos or possibly even videos of this ride in action.

 

I know the ride had a troubled and brief history, but for the curiousity aspect and/or nostalgia- does anyone have any more real info/pics about the ride when it still existed?

 

Thanks for any info/pics/videos in advance.

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I'm from St. Louis and remember that time very well.....my guess is that Rail Blazer existed for such a short time that no one on this particular site was there to:

 

A. take pictures of the ride during the short time that it ran

 

and

 

B. post them on this particular (or any other) theme park site 25 years later

 

not a big mystery, really.....

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Slight correction, JamesMC - Railblazer did in fact reopen after the tragedy, but it only remained Railblazer for the debut year, which was 1984.

 

On my one visit that year, I rode it several times. Due to the accident, operation was down to a single train, and each standing position saw a lockable waist belt that could only be opened by a special key. There was approximately 10 (no joke) ride ops on the platform, and I saw multiple ops taking notes on a clipboard. Due to the slow loading, and probably due to the unpleasant ride experience, the park made the wise decision to change it back to the Mine Train. The "Big Bad John" side remained in operation through 1987 and was SBNO through the next season. The park placed the one-season-only Condor within a portion of the coaster, and during the season that side saw the drop after the second lift cut off in half.

 

Ride experience on Railblazer? Think of what it would be like to stand in a fiberglass shower stall, and to have someone shake said shower stall back and forth violently, and then try it with a toilet seat over your head. Yeah, not so pleasant.

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Thanks for the info/corrections about the ride.

 

We were supposed to go the year it was in operation, and after hearing about the accident we (my family-I was only 15 or so) changed our plans and we went to either Cedar Point or King's Island instead.

 

I am still surprised that there aren't more pictures of Rail Blazer in operation. If anyone's got some or knows where to find 'em, please post the links. Or, if you had a chance to ride, please post your review.

 

Thanks again!

 

James

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  • 5 years later...

Yeah it seems like there's three different types of leg restraints, two different ones in the promo photos and another one in the personal photo.

 

edit: second photo looks to be an artist rendering.

 

Also it looks like the track was adjusted/reprofiled after the trains were removed or was it done before and after the stand up trains?

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I want to know why they thought turning a mine train into a stand-up coaster would be a good idea... Mind control from Togo? Sadism?

The coaster was redone and lost its mirror image when Rail Blazer was brought to the park, I rode it the day before the accident, 17 years old. The ride was not bad and a first for some parks, restraints on the knees were different and not much really holding you in. But generally I felt safe, ride was ok. But rode better since, and realize what a crappy coaster. But looking at the picture, if you were skinny held you in, but larger guests, had some opening issues on the restraints, as she was ejected going around the first turn that took you at about a Forty five degree angle and standing up, makes you hold on for sure. The track was modified for rail blazer,after the suit, coaster closed and reopened with mine train cars and been that way since. As far as pictures, adults did that. We went for the arcades and kick ass concerts, rides were a bonus, but lines really stunk back then, more so than they do now, guess it's the adult in me. Funny. Time Warner owned the parks then and was the hey day of the game world in the arcades, which was the sky way on the west side which now sits xcalibur, the best arcade in the park. Back to rail blazer, the entrance to the other mine train was turned into a disco, then a game place, arcade, then haunted house exit which it is today as well as storage probably.

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The history of the Mine Trains/Rail Blazer is a bit difficult to figure out, as most know when the park opened there were two similar but different Mine Trains at the park. For the 1979 season the park closed the current side (Rail Blazer side) until 1984 when the change to the Rail Blazer was done. The current Mine Train que/station area became the River King Disco for a couple of years. There was a building over the transfer track area (matching the building that is right in front of Mooseburger) until the change to the Rail Blazer, that building was the Action Factory arcade area and contained the Rock 'N Reel (one of the first motion simulator rides ever built and one of Intamin's first rides), I believe that the simulator was identical to the Sensational Sense Machine at SFOT at the same time period.

 

The Rail Blazer opened on June 17, the accident occurred on July 7, then the ride was closed until mid-August for modifications to the trains (I don't know which of the knee guards is the modified version) and then the ride operated as a stand-up for the remainder of the 1984 season, it was not changed back to the normal trains until 1985.

 

Today the Slaughter House haunted house uses the original que area for both of the rides (the exit of the haunted house was the original entrance of the rides) and it also uses the removed tracks station building. The transfer building of the removed track is used for storage (mostly Fright Fest stuff), the station building and the transfer buildings of both sides were never connected.

 

The removed track (now in Arkansas) operated from 1971 until the end of 1987, it sat partially dismantled in 1988, when Condor was added behind Panda Express (Ninja station area) and Ninja replaced in it 1989.

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I have only fleeting memories of the Big Bad John-side of the mine train as I was so young when it was removed. I do have one prominent memory of the two sides lining up at the end for the final drop, and there was no tunnel over that area at the time. That part seemed really exciting to me, probably because the trains would race down the last drop together if the timing was right. If I recall correctly, there was storage all around the flat bottom of the last drop, as the trains would race by random log flume boats and other things laying around.

 

Side note: maybe I'm remembering this wrong, but didn't there used to be a nightclub in the old Jet Scream station, and they would film it live on the weekends and show it on channel 11?

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^That's fantastic! I really miss those days. The park seemed so exciting when I was young. Coming down the highway I would watch miles of trees pass by until that gorgeous view of the Jet Scream up front and the Screamin Eagle towering over the back would pop up. The loop on Jet Scream seemed about 100 feet tall back then. And two mine trains! What a concept! I would gladly give up Ninja to Magic Springs if we could get the other mine train back.

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  • 2 years later...

I ran into this thread and thought I might post something interesting. (This will be hard to believe but it is true) My uncle was on Rail Blazer when the accident happened. His exact quote to me was "I was there when it happened. I was like 3 cars behind when I saw a woman fly out." Unbelievable but true

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The lower knee portion of the harness was on the same "gear" (for lack of a better word), and when the shoulder restraint lowered, the knee pads came up. The question was asked earlier, but the image above is of the restraint as I rode it, which was after the accident. This must have been taken before however, as it seems to be missing the locked waist-level seatbelt.

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