It creeps provocatively to the summit called ‘The Point of No Return,’ pausing for a tantalizing millisecond before plummeting 63 feet at 50 miles per hour, leaving your stomach and equilibrium behind. It’s this rush that still brings thrill seekers young and old to The Legend roller coaster, after all these years, at Arnolds Park Amusement Park (The Park) in the heart of the Iowa Great Lakes.
The Legend – originally christened The Speed Hound – became the showcase of The Park in 1930, along with the property’s other coaster, The Thriller. The architect of The Legend was John A. Miller, one of the leading roller coaster designers of the time, who filed for more than one hundred patents during his career. Technology used in The Legend such as the anti-rollback device, under-friction wheels, brakes for the station, and many other items were patented by Miller. These helped him and other designers create the next generation of roller coasters. The Legend is one of only 10 surviving John A. Miller designs.
The figure-eight layout wraps around the legendary Park property, starting with a six-story lift that sets the three-car train in motion to travel the 2,000-foot track in just over one minute.
The timelessness of The Legend is illustrated in its history since its creation in 1930. Certainly it is dwarfed in size and speed by the high-tech structures in today’s modern theme parks, but the popularity of The Legend remains unblemished. The wooden coaster is in its element in the chronicled confines of The Park. For decades, artists and photographers have captured the lakeside view of The Legend in memorable images.
Locals and visitors alike can recall their very first ride on The Legend, and their children and grandchildren all thrill to the same experience. Each season, amidst the cacophony of sounds emanating from The Park on any given summer day, you can hear the delighted shrills resonating through the treetops. Those are the riders of The Legend, with hearts in their throats, a rush in their brains, and an everlasting memory.