8 Weird Things Found at this Unusual Amusement Park

A trip to Lake Winnepesaukah amusement park is like taking a walk back in time. Opened on June 1, 1925, this small but charming and quirky amusement park is located outside of Chattanooga, just south of the Tennessee border in Rossville, Georgia. While the Native American word Winnepesaukah means “bountiful waters” or “beautiful lake of the highlands”, most of us refer to the park simply as “Lake Winnie.” What makes it unique? Here are 8 weird things found in this unusual amusement park (in no particular order).

Cannon Ball

While not weird per se, Cannon Ball was the surprise hit of the visit. The simple out-and-back wooden coaster designed by the legendary John C. Allen packs a surprising amount of airtime throughout its 2,272-foot-long layout.

The coaster was built by Philadelphia Toboggan Company (now known as Philadelphia Toboggan Coasters) and opened in 1967, making it one of the oldest operating coasters in the Southeast.

The unassuming coaster reaches a top speed of 50 mph following its 70-foot drop at a 45-degree angle. The coaster maintains its momentum all the way through the brake run. I recommend sitting as far back as possible for maximum floater time.

Cannon Ball is a can’t-miss ride at Lake Winnie.


The Boat Chute

Lake Winnie founder Carl Dixon designed a mill chute boat ride for the park. A mill chute, or old mill ride, is the predecessor to the modern log flume attraction. Construction began in the winter of 1926 and the ride opened as The Boat Chute in 1927. The National Amusement Park Historical Association (NAPHA) considers it the oldest operating mill chute in the United States. Take a ride with us in the 360 POV video below:


Twister 

Lake Winnepesaukah’s new-for-2016 Twister top spin ride is one of the weirdest and craziest looking flat rides you’ll see. It’s a Moser Rides “Maverick” model which features a 21-seat gondola that flips riders upside down in unexpected directions thanks to two asymmetric arms. As far as I know, this is the only operating Asymmetrical Maverick Top Spin in North America. Just watch the video below for the insanity. Unfortunately, the ride was closed on our recent visit in May 2021 due to staffing issues.


Clown Trash Cans

Does it get any better (weirder) than this? If only I could always throw my trash away in such style! I’ve seen a few of these clown trash can toppers at small parks before, but definitely not to the extent that Lake Winnie has them. Anywhere you are on the midway, you can see one.

There are some that have been recently refurbished and some that are most likely still bearing their original paint jobs. We loved them so much we even designed a tee shirt you can buy on the Coaster101 TeePublic store!


Wacky Factory

I’m a sucker for campy dark rides, and Wacky Factory checks all of the boxes.

The Lake Winnie website describes the ride experience as traveling “through the creaks and groans of a twisting mine shaft into the zany world of the Wacky Factory.”

It’s certainly zany with a plethora of flashing lights, black lights, an odd amount of foil-like wall coverings and even a surprise dip.


Oh-Zone! Drop Tower

At 140 feet, the OH-Zone! is the tallest ride at Lake Winnepesaukah. Although it really doesn’t look that tall, it still drops riders down 14-stories at a speed of fifty miles per hour and hits a breathtaking 4.6Gs. This intense ride proves drop towers don’t have to be 300 or 400 feet tall to be thrilling. I love how the car design blocks your view from seeing the top of the tower when you look up, and there’s no time to admire the scenic view. Once the vehicle gets to its highest point it drops without warning. Just brace yourself when it hits the brakes!

 

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Carousel

The oldest ride at Lake Winnie is the Philadelphia Toboggan Company carousel number 39, manufactured in 1916. Among the oldest and largest in the country, the carrousel includes 68 hand-painted steeds and has a unique location surrounded by water.


Lake WinnepeSPOOKah

While we didn’t get to experience Lake Winnie’s “Lake WinnepeSPOOKah” Halloween event on this visit, it is yet another unusual facet that makes the park so unique.

Lake Winnie’s annual Halloween event may be lower-budget than parks in the big leagues, there are still some terrifying/unsettling set pieces and surprises throughout the park.

See more photos from Lake Winnie’s Halloween event in our 2015 and 2016 trip reports.


Honorable Mention: Wild Lightning

Wild Lightning is one of the more extreme (read: rough/painful) wild mouse coasters out there. It’s under the “honorable mention” category because the ride was closed on our latest visit with no vehicles in sight and seeing how it is missing from Lake Winnie’s website may be closed permanently.

lake winnie coaster


Listen to us discuss our latest trip to Lake Winnie in this episode of the Coaster101 podcast and enjoy the visuals in the video below:

Have you ever been to Lake Winnie? What did you like or dislike about it? Let us know in the comments below.

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5 Responses

  1. Ronald Middleton says:

    This run down,out dated rides which are dangerous and could hurt or kill someone at anytime,needs to be closed. If you stand in the parking lot and at the bottom of the first drop of the “infamous cannonball” you can see for yourself that the track bounces up off the ground and shakes so violently that you are sure that one day soon that thing is going to kill and or injure several riders. These rides aren’t thoroughly inspected and at the beginning of the year of business,they are only inspected by the employees operating these rides. If the “test run” goes ok then it is deemed safe for operation. These rides aren’t inspected professionally.

  2. Dennis says:

    This claim is false and damaging to the reputation of someone’s business. I just stumbled upon the article as well as your comment, which every day patrons might believe. Have you taken a look at their safety record?? Those as well as news about injury spread faster than wildfire, with social media and the web. I can assure you 100% that they are inspected regularly,and repairs made. There is a governing body that requires several per year in order to operate as a park, open to the public. Its Not a choice they make, but a tax they pay to a overseeing body that conducts regular and random inspections.

  3. Darlene Lutton says:

    I remember taking our two oldest grandsons (now 16 and 19) when they where small. We live in Nashville. We all had a great time. We have other grands we need to bring. I know they would have a great time. In my opinion it is like a mini Disney, and a lot easier to manipulate. They have free sunscreen and lots of shady places. It is also a very clean park and seemed very safe to us.

    • Nicole Hedden says:

      I live within a half hour of Lake Winnie. I take my son there yearly and we always have a great time. Tickets are very affordable, the park is clean, and they have rides for every age.

  4. Chris says:

    If you want to sing the praises of the Wacky Factory, how about you start with the fact it is one of the last surviving dark rides by the legendary designer Bill Tracey that Lake Winnie has gutted, chopped into pieces, and virtually destroyed? Instead of investing in it properly, they chopped the entire ride IN HALF (the entire second story is now gone), and spray painted dayglo “wackiness” over what should be considered a freaking historical landmark!

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