Richard Docken and his cousin Don Woods loved roller coasters. Richard was also into HO scale trains and built a huge layout in his house. He also built at least three models of the “Cyclone Racer” roller coaster, which was part of the Long Beach, CA Pike Amusement Park. It opened in 1930 and closed in 1968 in order to build Shoreline Drive—one of the streets that now hosts the annual Long Beach Grand Prix Indycar race. Shown here is Mr. Docken’s final model, which is approximately 6-feet long and made from thousands of pieces of balsa wood.

Richard lived for roller coasters and model trains. He never married, and traveled the country to ride on roller coasters as a hobby. Don Woods noted that one day the two of them rode the Long Beach coaster twelve times in a row. Richard retired from UPS in 1997 after 35 years of service and passed away in April, 2012. 

The original coaster was 100′-tall and had 7,400 feet of track. The cars travelled at up to 50 mph. It was built in 5 months at a cost of $140,000 in 1930. It could handle 2,400 passengers per hour and over 30 million people rode on it during its lifetime. The original coaster is shown from an aerial view in the final image below. 

Exhibit added: January 27, 2014 - Last modified: May 23, 2023

Presented by The Joe Martin Foundation for Exceptional Craftsmanship