The Campaign of the Rocky Mountain News Against Denver's Roller Coaster

Friday, July 24, 1885

The Roar of the Roller

An element which is marring the popularity of the roller coaster is its noise. The people living within two blocks of it are complaining bitterly that from 7 o'clock in the evening until 11 they are disturbed by the roar of the roller to an unbearable extent. It is understood that unless some way for quieting the noise can be devised, legal proceedings will be instituted to have the machine abated as a nuisance. This has been done in Chicago with success. Whether the same could be done in Denver or not is not so certain, but it is quite evident that the attempt will be made. If it is successful it will be hard for the owners of the coaster, and if it fails the people living in the neighborhood will suffer, but not in silence.
Friday, July 24, 1885
The roller coaster should be compelled to make less noise or suspend operations. People who live in that vicinity have some rights which speculators are bound to respect.
Saturday, July 25, 1885
We know of no good reason why such roaring nuisances as the discordant cries of the street hawkers and the ten-thousand horse power bowling alley racket of the roller coaster should be tolerated by the police. Neither nuisance is a public or private necessity, and both should be suppressed at once. The hawkers can attract the attention of their customers as quietly as the letter carriers or the tax gatherers, and if the noise of the roller coaster cannot be deadened the whole contrivance should be torn down. There is grave danger that some evening a frightful accident that may kill or main many foolish people will happen at the roller coaster, but even if the thing were safe the frightful noise it makes is quite unbearable and it should be abated.
Tuesday, July 28, 1885
We understand that the city authorities intend to pass an ordinance to prohibit street hawkers from making unseemly and unnecessary noises... When the authorities are about it they should devise some way of abating that other noisy nuisance, the roller coaster.
Wednesday, July 29, 1885
The discordant and nerve-wearying noises made by the street hawkers and the roller coaster, must be stopped.
Saturday, August 1, 1885
The roller coaster nuisance still continues, notwithstanding the earnest protest of the citizens who live in its immediate vicinity. To add to the unearthly din caused by the cars, the management have procured the services of some strolling players, who render the most execrable music for the edification of the small boys who seem to be the principal patrons. In well regulated cities such nuisances are abated, but here, it seems, the authorities take special delight in permitting any unearthly noise that evil-disposed person desire to make. The hawkers about the streets and the roller coaster ought to be located on the Ute reservation, where they can play their vocation without disturbing the peace and quiet of well regulated communities. Abate the nuisance at once.
Sunday, August 2, 1885
It is to be hoped that the ordinance to provide for the suppression of unnecessary noises will be made sufficiently comprehensive to abate such rackets as are made at all hours of the day and night by the street hawkers and the roller coaster. There is no good reason why the people of a large city should be pestered in this outrageous way.
Wednesday, August 5, 1885
Abate those noisy nuisances--the yell of the street hawkers and the roar of the roller coaster.
Thursday, August 6, 1885

The Roller Coaster Nuisance.

To the Rocky Mountain News.
I observe with pleasure your strictures on that unbearable nuisance, the roller coaster. Of all the afflictions that poor humanity is cursed with the dwellers in the vicinity of Twenty-third and Welton think the roller coaster the worst. Plague, cholera, the circus or dynamite are but blessings in disguise compared to the noise of this fiendish invention. A noise that is devilish in its monopoly of all other sounds. Social converse is done away with. A struggle to make oneself heard across the table is fatal to the voice. The hooting of the rabble, added to the din of the coaster makes a pandemonium that must multiply lunatics or suicides. Tenants are moving out and unoccupied house can not be let an any price. The writer's wife, like other ladies, is subject to sick headache, and during its continuance is either obliged to leave her home or suffer tortures. Now, Mr. Editor, have we residents, property owners and tax-payers no rights to be respected, or must we suffer loss and inconvenience that a few speculators may make money out of the community? Our alderman of the Fifth ward is cognizant of the complaints of his constituents, but views the matter with the complacency of a philosopher or an interested party. It is said our mayor is trying to do the best he can for good government. If so, let him abate this nuisance giving us another proof of his efficiency.
Thursday, August 6, 1885
Complaints of the unbearable torture inflicted upon nervous people by the roller coaster pour into The News office by the scores. Why should not this nuisance be abated at once? The roller coaster is a dangerous sport, at best, and the noise it makes is terribly wearing on the unfortunate people who live within sound of it. If the authorities do not suppress this noise, the people who suffer from it will take other means to secure quiet.
Friday, August 7, 1885
The roller coaster must be silenced. It is a roaring nuisance, and the police should suppress it rather than permit the outraged citizens, who are driven to distraction by its noise, to become provoked into removing it by force.
Tuesday, August 11, 1885

Chipper Chippies.
The Queer Little Wanderers of the Skating Rink, the Park and the Pave Philosophically Described.

The "chippy" is supposed to be indigenous to the soil of Colorado. "Chippy" is the term now generally applied to the juvenile nymph du pave, the young girl who wanders about at night, visits questionable places and keeps questionable company. ...

She is There.

When the skating rinks are open, she patronizes them, and on summer evenings she is apt to hang about the roller coaster. She cares as little for showing her legs as she does for soap and the bath towel.

Tuesday, August 11, 1885
The roller coaster nuisance still remains unabated. Our city officials seem to be losing their grip.
Thursday, August 13, 1885
Daily and nightly the noise of the roller coaster still rises in judgment against our inefficient city government. Is Mayor Bates losing his grip?
Saturday, August 15, 1885
If Mayor Bates is out of town President Smith of the Board of Supervisors is acting mayor. Mr. Smith should assert his authority. Corporation Counsel White is not so important as he looks.


Acting-Mayor Smith should suppress the roller coaster nuisance at once. By the way, we would like to know if Building Inspector McIntyre ever gave a permit for the erection of that dangerous structure? If not, why does he not condemn it at once?

Sunday, August 16, 1885

An Attempted Hold-Up

... on Twenty-third street in the alleyway between California and Welton streets.
The foot-pads were seen hanging around the roller coaster and had evidently left that place to lie in wait for victims.
Tuesday, August 18, 1885
The roller coaster has been officially condemned. The street hawkers who sell bad fruits and vegetables should be suppressed next.


Very properly Building Inspector McIntyre has ordered the immediate removal of the roller coaster. The structure was put up without a license in defiance of law and the police should never have permitted its erection. Public opinon in the afflicted neighborhood will heartily sustain the action of the Building Inspector. The next roller coaster should not be built this side of Montclair.

Tuesday, August 18, 1885

The Roller Coaster Nuisance Left to the Care Of the Building Inspector and The Police Committee.

Residents and taxpayers on Twenty-third and Welton asked for the removal of that dangerous nuisance, the roller coaster. Alderman Hadfield moved that the petition be granted. Alderman Jones said that he had observed that beautiful cottages in the vicinity

Were Standing Vacant

on account of this nuisance, the roller coaster.

President Darrow said that he had been informed that the building inspector had condemned the coaster and he did not think it best for the board to take any hasty action. The petition was finally referred to the police committee by a vote of 5 to 3--Jones, Kaub and Ward voting no.

Tuesday, August 18, 1885

The Coaster Condemned.
Building Inspector McIntyre Wisely Condemns the Roller Coaster as a Very and Unsafe and Dangerous Structure.

Building Inspector McIntyre did a very wise and just thing yesterday in condemning the roller coaster as being in a generally dangerous condition, and subject to condemnation as not being built in conformity with the ordinances of the city. The coaster is a frame structure but it is built within the fire limits of the city. It is without protecting walls and the coaster itself is built in such a way which would seem to render accidents almost inevitable. Serious accidents are said to have occurred on other cities by which people have been injured or killed, and it is considered by many as little short of a miracle none have occurred here. In accordance with the general complaint of the citizens against the unsightly, noisy and utterly useless roller coaster, and acting on his own inspection of the crazy structure through which it glides, Mr. McIntyre yesterday afternoon issued and sent to the proprietors the following notice of condemnation:

Notice of Condemnation No. 15.
Denver, Colo., Aug. 17, 1885.
To Cobb, Allen & Jones:
You are hereby notified that the building situation on lots 17, 18, 19, block 154, in East Denver (roller coaster) is in a dangerous condition, and must, therefore, be condemned. In case of a failure on your part to comply with the ordinance of the City of Denver in such case made and provided, you will be dealt with according to law.
J. A. McIntyre, Building Inspector.
Your attention is particularly called to ordinance No. 2, approved May 2, 1885.

It is generally thought that the taking down of the roller coaster will prevent the occurrence of an accident by which a coaster load of people may be thrown down and injured or perhaps hurled into eternity.

Wednesday, August 19, 1885
Will Mayor Bates order his police force to remove the condemned roller coaster? If not, why not?
Wednesday, August 19, 1885

The Condemned Coaster.
The Roller Coaster Stops and the Citizens Sincerely Hope It Will Never Commence Again.

The "roller coaster" has stopped its "rush and rumble and roar," and the building inspector thinks it will probably be taken down at once, but he also expects that the parties who have been running the machine will attempt to get a new permit from the city council. If they do the tax-payers and property owners in the vicinity will be likely to offset the petition with a very vigorous protest. There seems to be general rejoicing in the vicinity of the coaster over the action of the building inspector. It seems that the county commissioners have been frequently asked to abate the nuisance, but did not think they could properly exercise supervision in the matter. Chairman Gird, of the county board, says an old lady called at his house late at night a few nights ago. "Well," said Mr. Gird to the old lay, "What do you want?" "I want," said the old lady," that you should stop that confounded coaster or else you will have the satisfaction of knowing that there are a lot of corpses and lunatics at our house."

County Commissioner Aggers said that several people had come to him and asked to have their taxes reduced. When asked what for, they replied that they lived near the roller coaster, and consider that their property had depreciated about 50 per cent in value. Alderman Jones said in the council meeting Monday evening that housed in the vicinity of the roller coaster were remaining vacant because people did not want to occupy homes near the thing.

The uselessness of the coaster is admitted by well-nigh everybody. Persons who have ridden on it consider it far more amusing and enjoyable to have a tooth pulled. A sudden plunge into unknowable depths, a moment's thump over a little elevator piece of planking, another plunge into the depths and then an ascent to the starting place, all in the space of a few seconds. This is all there is to the insane amusement known as roller coasting. If one let go of the back of the car for a moment his chance for breaking his neck would be exceedingly good, but there are much easier and pleasanter ways of committing suicide. One steps off of the coaster with the inward murmur, "Thank God, it is over."

The rumble of the machine is terrific, the crowds that it gathers are objectionable to many people, and the calamities that have occurred in other cities make the safety to the life and limb of the riders very much open to question. If residents and tax payers in the vicinity have their way the roller coaster has ended its trips.

Thursday, August 20, 1885

The Condemned Coaster.

In spite of numerous protests from citizens and the condemnation of their crazy machine by the building inspector, the roller coaster still continues its trips. Building Inspector McIntyre told The News reporter yesterday afternoon that he had done what he could in the matter, and that the proper authorities would have to do the rest. This probably means that if the police do their duty the roller coaster will be removed. In the meantime, the city council will be asked to leave off quarrelling long enough to abate the nuisance, and it is generally thought that if the will and wish of citizens and taxpayers is regarded the roller coaster will be permanently suppressed.
Thursday, August 20, 1885
Only hoodlums and hobbledehoys now patronize the roller coaster. Where are the police?


If Mayor Bates and his police will not do their plain duty in suppressing the roller coaster nuisance which was erected without a permit and has been condemned by the Building Inspector, the people of the afflicted neighborhood cannot be blamed if they take the law into their own hands and abate the nuisance in their own way.

Friday, August 21, 1885
A low-grade lawyer who was secretary of the Republican county committee last fall [Noah Allen] is one of the owners of the roller coaster nuisance. Perhaps this explains why a Republican mayor neglects his duty in that matter. We have no doubt that the lawyer makes more money running the coaster than he could ever have hoped to make at the bar. We don't blame him for improving his condition but the nuisance should be abated.
Friday, August 21, 1885
A petition from the residents near the roller coaster asking that it be permitted to remain unmolested, was read.
Alderman Jones asked that the names be read.
After a long list of names was read Alderman Jones ventured that there wasn't a dozen names on the petition that lived within one block of the roller coaster.
On motion, the petition went to the police committee.
Saturday, August 22, 1885
Have the roller coaster company any right to enclose the public highway in their structure?
Saturday, August 22, 1885
Mayor Bates is credited with saying that Building Inspector McIntyre can have the aid of the police if he wants it in removing the roller coaster nuisance. We cannot understand why Mayor Bates does not set the police to work of his own motion. He knows that no permit was ever granted for the erection of the coaster, and he also knows that it is his duty as head of the police force to prevent the erection of any structure within the fire limits of the city without a permit. Suppose that some enterprising person should build a house or a roller coaster on a public street. Would Mayor Bates feel that it was none of his business?
Saturday, August 22, 1885
It is suggested to the roller coaster petitioners that they go to the deaf and dumb asylum. They ought to get any amount of names there.
Saturday, August 22, 1885
A vicious dog belonging to the roller coaster nuisance bit a boy in the arm a day or two ago. The dog was shot by the police afterward, and died happy in getting away from the noise.
Friday, September 4, 1885
Petition of a number of citizens containing 110 names, against the roller coaster was referred to the police committee.
Sunday, September 13, 1885

A New License Bill.

The license committee of the board of supervisors have introduced a bill for an ordinance for miscellaneous licenses. The licenses for the most part are not changed much, but there are some things that are added and changes are made in others. In the present bill roller rinks have $300 per year and roller coasters the same, and dancing academies have to pay a license of $50 a year. The bill was drawn for the express purpose of covering businesses subject to a license, which were omitted in the old ordinances or so loosely constructed as to give persons engaged in a licensable business an opportunity to avoid paying their tax.
Saturday, October 10, 1885
The special committee which had been appointed to investigate the roller coaster nuisance made a report, accompanied by a resolution, recommending that the building inspector be empowered to condemn it and have it taken down. The report of the committee was adopted.
Friday, October 16, 1885
The report of the aldermanic police committee recommending that the roller coaster on Twenty-third and Welton streets be abolished, was read and referred to the license committee.
Sunday, November 8, 1885
The [license] committee concurred in the action of the aldermen declaring the roller coaster at Twenty-third and Welton streets a nuisance.
Comments may be sent to Victor Canfield

Last revised 14-Aug-2009

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