The Dips Coaster

History behind the “Meet Cute” in my new book


4/3/20242 min read

Pressed Together, which releases May 1 from Mt. Zion Ridge Press, takes place just after World War II. In the opening chapter (excerpt available this month for newsletter subscribers), a military police detective has arrived on the boardwalk of Buckeye Lake’s amusement park. He’s looking for a run-away witness to his brother’s murder. His search is complicated by the woman he’s about to meet for the first time under the shadow of The Dips roller coaster, an actual coaster that helped make Buckeye Lake famous in the first half of the 20th century. 

I know what you’re wondering. Did the term “meet cute” I used in the subtitle exist in 1946? The answer, I was excited to find, is YES. “Meet cute” dates back to 1941. That’s another post, though.

So, here’s the scoop on The Dips. 

It was preceded by The Figure Eight coaster, built in the mid-teens, which caught fire and burned down in about 1922. The bigger and better Dips was a wooden coaster constructed in 1930, known for its up-and-down journey out over the lake water and back. It ran until a crash in 1958. It typically brought in about $5,000 a day in revenue. 

CLICK the button below to experience a digital recreation of what it might have been like to ride on The Dips at Buckeye Lake!

Donna Braig, in her memoir of growing up at the park, remembers men walking The Dips every morning before it ran, looking for loose planks. Also, the amusement park stayed open each night in summer until The Dips ran its last run of the night. When The Dips turned off its lights, it was time for everything at the park to shut down. 

Braig was also there the night of the accident that ended the coaster’s era, when a cable broke and sheared off a pin, and the three cars of eighteen riders came “roaring back down the hill.” Though no one died in that crash, several were severely injured. The coaster never ran again, but no one quite knew what to do with it until a big storm blew it down into the lake.

I don’t want to give too much away, but it’s probably safe to let you know The Dips is still standing at the end of Pressed Together

This photo, courtesy of the Buckeye Lake Museum, gives a good view of The Dips to the left, where you can see it loop out over the water in the "little lake."

The Buckeye Lake Museum ladies do a podcast about crimes, murders, and awful accidents from the "old days" and call it Body Talk. You can subscribe to their channel below. An upcoming episode is about incidents involving The Dips coaster, including the final one that shut it down.