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10 Deadliest Roller Coaster Accidents


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Big Dipper, Krug Park, 1930
Krug Park is now known as Gallagher Park -- and it no longer features a roller coaster. daveO/iStock/Thinkstock
Krug Park is now known as Gallagher Park -- and it no longer features a roller coaster. daveO/iStock/Thinkstock

Local beer magnate Frederick Krug was the owner and namesake of Omaha, Nebraska's Krug Park, but no alcohol was involved when The Big Dipper's train derailed on July 24, 1930. Instead, it was mechanical failure that led to the deadliest roller coaster accident in United States history.

The train's four cars were heavily loaded as they departed the boarding area and headed up the first incline. According to investigators, that's when a piece of the brake system worked its way loose and jammed the wheels on one of the cars. It jumped the tracks, breaking through a guardrail before plummeting 35 feet (10.7 meters) to the ground below. Tragically, the coaster's lift chain continued to run, pushing the other three cars over the edge with the first one. Many riders found themselves pinned underneath the runaway train, which ultimately killed four people and injured 19 [source: Associated Press].

Business declined after the disaster, forcing Krug Park to close by 1940. In 1945, concerned citizens launched a fundraising campaign to purchase the land and reopen it as a city park, which they did in 1955. The site now known as Gallagher Park boasts a swimming pool and baseball field — no roller coasters in sight [source: Horan].