History courtesy of Belmont Park
In the early 1900’s, a wealthy sugar magnate by the name of John D. Spreckels was hard at work driving the development of San Diego. A main focus of his development plan was the up and coming Mission Beach. In 1925, in an effort to stimulate real estate sales and to promote his electric railway, Mr. Spreckels built the Mission Beach Amusement Center, now known as Belmont Park. One of the amusement center’s star attractions was the Giant Dipper roller coaster. The 2,600 foot long coaster was created by the noted design team of Prior and Church and was built in less than 2 months by local suppliers and a crew of between 100-150 workers. The original cost to build the coaster was $150,000, including the two, 18 passenger trains.
Along with the coaster, the Natatorium, which later became known as The Plunge swimming pool, was constructed as a centerpiece of the park. The 60’ by 175’ pool was, at the time, the largest salt-water pool in the world holding 400,000 gallons of water. The building encapsulating the Natatorium was styled after the Spanish Renaissance style buildings that were erected in San Diego’s Balboa Park between 1915 and 1916 (in celebration of the opening of the Panama Canal at the Panama-California Exposition).
Follow the link above to learn more about the fascinating history of Belmont Park.
Fun Fact: The designers of the Giant Dipper also built a Giant Dipper at the Santa Cruz amusement park. It took 47 days to build, and opened in 1924. Both wooden coasters have been named a National Historic Landmark. — David P.
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