My Summer Working at the Log Jammer

I spent two summers during college working at Kennywood Park – the first was spent in Kiddie Land and the second at the Log Jammer. It was the summer of 1993. The Log Jammer was classified as a major ride which means that the staff stays at that ride all day instead of rotating between a group of rides. So the crew that worked at the Log Jammer spent a lot of time together – 12 hours a day at the park and we also partied together after hours. Juliana once told me that working at the Log Jammer was the coolest job ever.

Today is the final day of operation of the Log Jammer so here are some of my memories of that summer (or at least as best as I remember that summer from 24 years ago).

1 – There were several different work areas at this ride. At the ride entrance for checking height and collecting tickets (yes, I worked there so long ago you could still pay general admission and buy tickets for rides) and in the station there were two sides and each had staff at the loading brake and the exit brake. My favorite assignments were out on the ride itself: at the top of the spillway and at the top of the big hill. Top of the spillway was the easiest job – sit in a chair and make sure no one was getting into trouble and if the ride broke down, it was a key evacuation point. The first place I always volunteered for was the tower. The person in the tower controlled the ride – dispatching each log from the station. It is probably one of the quietest places in the park and I spent a lot of hours in that tower pushing buttons and watching riders splash down the hill. On slow nights the two people working out on the ride could talk to each other via the  phone that connected the two spaces, otherwise it was a solitary place.

2 – There were not many firework nights back in the early 90’s but the Log Jammer was the best place to work on those nights. The ride closed early but the staff had to stay to prepare the ride for fireworks. They were shot off over the Jog Jammer pavilion area so that entire section of the park was closed for fireworks. We had to hose down the wooden railings and roof of the ride and remove some of the logs from the flume. Since we were the only people allowed in the closed off space we had prime viewing of the fireworks. We would choose a picnic table and lie on it and watch the fireworks straight over head; the paper for the fireworks would land around us.

3 – One day in the middle of the summer, the ride was closed for clean-up. The entire crew worked and we removed each log from the ride and washed it – they were some disgusting ride vehicles – and removed a lot of lost change. We were able to go to lunch as a group that day. We walked out of the back entrance and crossed the road and ate at Ponderosa (another thing that isn’t there anymore).

4 – We swam in the log flume on at least once of those occasions that the ride was closed. I’m quite sure this was unauthorized activity and that water was not cleanest.

The landscape of Kennywood will be different next summer and it will be odd to walk past the Racer and see something other than the Log Jammer.



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