“The Chute”

by Paula Bosse

chute-roller-coaster_c1908_tshaThe Chute and The Tickler, Texas State Fair, 1908 (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Construction began in 1906 on a new entertainment area at Fair Park called The Pike.

“What is known as ‘Smokey Row’ has been set back against the fence on the south side of the grounds, and the space between it and the race track, all the way to the grandstand, will be occupied by exhibits. Two streets through this part of the grounds lead to the grandstand and the Pike. The Pike will be located beyond the grandstand, occupying a space 250×1125 feet. Here are being constructed the scenic railway and the shoot the chute, which will represent an investment of $75,000. The State Fair has agents in the East booking the remaining attractions for this department. These agents have instructions to pay the money and get the newest and best things to be had.” (Dallas Times Herald, June 24, 1906)

The new Pike meant that visitors to the State Fair of Texas would be able to ride “The Chute,” an amusement park attraction that had been popular in other parts of the country (and which automatically brings to mind the log ride at Six Flags Over Texas). In 1908, a roller coaster with the delightful name of “The Tickler” joined the rides in the area that was referred to as the “Pleasure Plaza” in at least one newspaper account. The Chute/Shoot the Chute/Chute the Chutes lasted a relatively short time — only until 1914 when it was torn down to “make room for the new shows known as the ‘World at Home,’ to be open to the public at the State Fair next fall” (DTH, Aug. 18, 1914).

Rides such as The Chute and The Tickler were enormously popular, and one wonders how all those hats managed to stay on all those heads of all those pleasure-seekers.

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The Chute, head-on (all photos are larger when clicked):

chute_postcard_1908

A view of The Pike, with The Chute to the right, above the sideshow banners.

chute_willis_dpl

In action:

chute_willis_sfot

At “night” (the second photo above, glamorized, with postcard magic applied):

chute-night_observer

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Top photo from the collection of the Texas State Historical Association.

Second photo, a 1908 postcard, from eBay.

Third and fourth photos from the book Fair Park by Willis Cecil Winters (Charleston: Arcadia Publishing, 2010). Photo of The Pike from the Dallas Public Library; photo of the boat from the State Fair of Texas Archives.

Night scene from a story by Robert Wilonsky on Winters’ book in the Dallas Observer, here.

Dallas Times Herald quotes from the indispensable Dallas County Archives pages compiled by Jim Wheat; these two articles can be found here.

Yes, Wikipedia does have an entry on the history of Shoot the Chute rides, here.

 As always, most pictures are larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

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