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April 7, 1978: The aptly named Colossus, the granddaddy of all wooden roller coasters, nears completion at the Magic Mountain amusement park at Valencia. It would be the longest, tallest and fastest such ride anywhere, with two steep falls of more than 100 feet, and was built entirely of wood. The image was taken with a 35-millimeter panorama film camera.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Joe Kennedy / Los Angeles Times Archive/UCLA

June 21, 1978: Chuck Gonzales, who worked on Colossus for six months, gets one of the first test rides on the new Magic Mountain roller coaster. This photo was published in the June 22, 1978, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Bill Varie / Los Angeles Times

Oct. 19, 1980: Carl Eichelman, 40, who flew from Cincinnati to Los Angeles over the weekend just to ride Colossus at Magic Mountain, reacts after getting off the roller coaster. This photo was published in the Oct. 20, 1980, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Barbara Martin / Los Angeles Times

Aug. 19, 1990: Magic Mountain maintenance man Mike Rowbotham tightens bolt on the Colossus roller coaster. This photo was published in the Aug. 23, 1990, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Steve Dykes / Los Angeles Times

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Magic Mountain’s Colossus under construction [updated]

Apr. 7, 1978: The original caption reported:

WORLD’S BIGGEST — Rightly named the Colossus, this granddaddy of all roller coasters is nearing completion at the Magic Mountain amusement park at Valencia. Scheduled to open in middle or late May, it will be the longest, tallest and fastest such ride anywhere, with two steep falls of more than 100 feet. It is being built entirely of wood, including the side-by-side tracks on which cars will cover 1.75 miles at more than 60 m.p.h. The huge structure, more than 150 feet tall and 1,068 feet long, is being built in three sections that gradually are growing close to one another.

This photo, by retired staff photographer Joe Kennedy, was published across the top of the Apr. 7, 1978, Metro section front page. The image was taken with a 35-millimeter panorama film camera.

Colossus opened at Magic Mountain on June 29, 1978.

On Aug. 16, 2014, Colossus will close. See the Los Angeles Times story:¬† Six Flag’s Colossus wood roller coaster to close Saturday.

[This post was updated on Aug. 15, 2014 with three additional photos.]

scott.harrison@latimes.com

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1 Comment

  1. August 15, 2012, 1:15 pm

    I remember that! I was working at MM on weekends and summers while going to UCLA. They used us, as employees, to test the ride before it opened to the public. What a thrill! I remember one car got stuck on the way up, the rest of us made it off OK, but some of my coworkers had to climb down the cat walk. They had great afterhours parties for us in the summer also. Fond memories from '76 – '78! Jaime Hernandes (now in San Diego).

    By: Jaime H.

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