Nearly every day for 12 years, Dannie Lancaster has climbed the Texas Giant to help keep Six Flags' wooden flagship roller coaster running as safely, if not as smoothly, as possible. On days when the heat was most intense, Lancaster says, he and the inspection crew might replace 50 heavy track bolts that had broken under the strain.
This morning he was part of a small crew that pulled three support legs down from high up on the 143-foot ride.
"It's something we're gonna miss," Lancaster says, though after a dozen years of sweltering climbs weighed down by a heavy homemade leather tool belt, he's thankful the replacement ride -- a wood and metal hybrid -- should need less work.
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When the Texas Giant opened in March of 1990, Six Flags says the ride was the tallest and fastest in the world (62 miles per hour, at its fastest). Its demolition should take about six months, with construction on the replacement ride running through next season, before its opening kicks off the park's 2011 season.
Crews have also removed much of the track already, one section at a time. According to numbers from Six Flags press office, the old ride was built from one million feet of Southern Yellow Pine, held together by 10 tons of nails, more than 80 tons of bolts and 1,220 concrete piers.