Roots Revealed Blog
Winter Funland: It's All Downhill From Here
Many Clevelanders love to complain about our winter weather. Others take advantage of the low temperatures and snowy days by getting outside and enjoying winter activities only available to us for a few months of the year. So, while some grumble at snow, others feel cheated when the white stuff proves elusive. For those who enjoy the thrill of downhill toboggan chutes the lack of snow has not been a problem since 1967. That is the year that the “first refrigerated toboggan slide IN THE WORLD . . .” opened in what is now Mill Stream Run Reservation, near Strongsville. Yep, the very first, that is correct.
In 1966 the Cleveland Metropolitan Park District (we became Cleveland Metroparks a decade later) contracted with a company named Winter Funland Inc. to build what would become the first refrigerated toboggan chutes, not just in the United States, but anywhere. The annual report of 1966-67 provides this information in a very dry, matter of fact manner, along with a description of the slides which consisted of” two steel chutes with concrete bottoms, 850 feet long and a refrigeration system capable of keeping ice on the chutes when the outside temperature is as high as 50 degrees Fahrenheit.” he report also described the “masonry and wood lodge” (now the Chalet) built nearby to serve “winter sports enthusiasts . . . [and] serve in summertime as a shelter house.”  Just the facts, ma’am, not, “WHHOOOO HOOO, Cleveland has the FIRST REFRIGERATED TOBOGGAN CHUTES EVER IN THE WHOLE, WIDE, WORLD, EVER!!!!,” which is how I would have presented it.
Dry annual reports aside, the chutes and the adjacent Chalet, soon became very popular with school kids, teens, families and groups. Cleveland Press reporter, Dick Feagler, had a chance to try the slides out in early January of 1967, a couple of weeks before the public opening. In typical Feagler style he proclaimed that from the bottom looking up the chutes were about 60 feet high but “a slider looking down finds the slide is really seven miles high . . . [and] travels about six times the speed of stomach.” He also gave advice for dealing with little boys laughing at cowardly adults. “Just ignore them until they have turned their backs, hit them with snowballs and run.”
Over forty years later the chutes are still providing fun for laughing children and not-so-cowardly adults. You can find hours of operation, prices and other info online on Cleveland Metroparks website at http://www.clevelandmetroparks.com/Main/toboggan-chutes.aspx or in the winter editions of The Emerald Necklace.
NOTE: New last year; toboggan lift so you don’t have to carry your toboggan up the stairs!
 Board of Park Commissioners, Cleveland Metropolitan Park District, Biennial Report. Cleveland, 1967
 Feagler “Toboggan Puts Reporter on Skids”, Cleveland Press, 2 January, 1967
1/28/2014 4:00:57 AM by Lisa Oldfield
Looks like so much fun!!!
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