FLASHBACK – Racing Thru The Clouds in Venice

©VirtualVenice.infoOnce upon a time, the first roller coaster ever built on the West Coast reached towards the Venice, California sky. The ride was called Race Thru The Clouds and when it opened on July 4, 1911, even with only half of its cars on line over 25,000 people rode it. Yes, in one day. Roller coasters soon became such a popular attraction in Venice that fourteen were built in between 1904 and 1925. In the early 1920′s, visitors to Venice had a choice of six different rides: three on the Venice Pier, one on the inland lagoon and two on the Ocean Park/Lick Piers.

Although the first coaster is long gone, you can still find evidence of Race Thru The Clouds nearby if you look… architect Steve Ehrlich themed a nearby commercial building after its curves. I think my favorite tribute is this, though: a Folsom Prison inmate named William Jennings-Bryan Burke once spent over a decade erecting a replica of the ride made entirely out of toothpicks! AWESOME! (He actually built entire carnivals from toothpicks. I’m not kidding.)

(CLICK ON THE IMAGES BELOW FOR LARGER VIEWS)©USC Digital Archive

(Above) Photograph of a view of the roller coaster at Venice looking east from the Pacific Electric Station, circa 1920. The large wooden roller coaster is at center and is surrounded by several amusement park eateries and shops. Many pedestrians are visible near the shops. The entrance to the ride is at center under a light-colored wooden archway adorned with American flags and flanked by two large wooden towers. A large canal is visible in the background at left, and a Pacific Electric train is in the background at right. There is a street in the foreground at right, and several early-model automobiles are parked along the edge. Legible signs include, from left to right: “Race Thru the Clouds Soda Fountain,” “Hughes Ice Cream,” “The Race Thru the Clouds,” “The New Race,” “Its entirely different from the old one,” “All new sensational dips,” “Some Thriller,” “Town Kisses,” and “Song Shop.”

©USC Digital Archive

(Above) Color postcard of “Race Through the Clouds,” a roller coaster in Venice, California. Many people are lined up under a large covered entrance. Several American flags fly from the platforms surrounding the roller coaster.

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6 Responses to “FLASHBACK – Racing Thru The Clouds in Venice”

  1. PlatiWm says:

    большое спасибо!Взяла себе тоже-пригодится.

  2. iPod says:

    Ну жесть конечно…

  3. “Полезного много нашла для себя”

  4. kran says:

    забрала в цитатник, спасибо!

  5. [...] Meanwhile on the west coast at Venice, Los Angeles the “Race thru The Clouds” was built in  1911: [...]

  6. Deane Dukart says:

    Respect to op , some good information .

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