The Beast rollercoaster

Advertised before its completion as "the biggest, baddest, longest, fastest wooden roller coaster in the world,” The Beast certainly lived up to its name when it opened in 1979.

45 years on and it’s no longer the tallest or fastest, but it retains its status as the world’s longest rollercoaster made of wood.

Located at Kings Island theme park in Ohio, USA, The Beast’s total length is 2,224 metres (7,361 ft), spanning 35 acres of hilly terrain.

The ride lasts four minutes and 10 seconds, reaching a top speed of 104.25 km/h (64.78 mph).

The Beast was designed and constructed in-house at Kings Island for approximately $3.5 million, and according to them it would cost over $20 million if it were to be built today.

Lead engineers Al Collins and Jeff Gramke consulted with famous rollercoaster architect John C. Allen to design it.

They did it over the course of two years, calculating tens of thousands of formulas without the use of computers or scientific calculators. “Everything had to be calculated by hand," Gramke recalled in a 2014 interview with the Cincinnati Enquirer.

“We didn't just design it here, we built it here. That didn't happen in the industry anywhere. This is probably the first park where a coaster was designed and built in-house by the owner of the company."

They constructed The Beast in a wooded area in a corner of the park featuring naturally occurring cliffs, hills and ravines, choosing to incorporate the landscape into the design rather than levelling it, thus saving money.

They worked around the topography by going underground, resulting in the creation of three pitch-black tunnels. “It turned out to be a great element of the ride, [but] it was more a necessity to make the ride work,” Gramke said.

The first tunnel is at the bottom of a 137-ft (41.8-metre) drop, while the third is a 540-degree helix tunnel.

The Beast

Altogether, 650,000 board feet of lumber were used to construct the coaster, as well as 37,500 lb of nails; 82,480 bolts and washers; and 2,432 square yards of concrete.

The Beast’s name was coined by the theme park’s public relations manager Ruth Voss, who often overheard builders calling it "a beast of a project".

Equally beastly were the queues to ride it when it first opened, with crowds waiting in line for up to five hours.

The Beast became incredibly popular among rollercoaster fans, including the American Coaster Enthusiasts (ACE) who awarded the ride its Roller Coaster Landmark designation in 2004.

It remains one of the most popular rides at Kings Island to this day, having accommodated over 54 million riders and counting.

In fact, each of The Beast’s three trains have travelled more than 900,000 miles – equivalent to over 35 times around the world.

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