Skip to Main Content

Losantiville ...

Skip to Next Section

From Losantiville to Rivertown

John Keeter

Kings Island Blog Contributor

Harkening back to pioneer days of the 1800’s, one of Kings Island’s original themed areas is a nod to the Cincinnati’s past as a river city. Originally called Frontiertown and Frontier Land by designers, this section of the park is officially named Rivertown.

The theme was actually born out of the miniature railroad that operated at Cincinnati’s Coney Island. The attraction, which opened in 1964, was wildly popular with guests and was the first themed attraction at Coney Island. There it crossed into a “woods” where mechanical pioneers, Indians and Civil War figures came to life as the train passed by. Kings Island’s developers and designers knew they wanted to expand upon that.

The same mechanical figures and set pieces that operated on the train at Coney Island were relocated to Kings Island and incorporated into the new Kings Island and Miami Valley Railroad attraction. Two brand-new 36-inch gauge trains, designed after the famous 1855 locomotive known as The General, were built by Crown Metal Products in Wyano, Pennsylvania at a cost of $700,000.  The green engine was named “Simon Kenton” (now called the Lew Brown) and the blue engine was named “Tecumseh” (now called the Kenny Van Meter). Both are propane-fueled, but were built as authentic steam trains and contain 400 gallon boilers on each. 

The Simon Kenton was the first engine delivered to the park, and took its inaugural test ride November 10, 1971. The original foreman of the K.I. & M.V.R.R. was Lewis Brown, who led a team of engineers that carried up to 5,000 passengers every hour in 12 carriages (six pulled by each engine). After leaving the Losantiville station (a nod to the original name of Cincinnati) the train traversed a 45-foot ravine trestle, through the wilderness, into a chaotic mechanical figure firearm battle, past a Civil War fort, and finally into a Wild West Town where a live actor staged a train robbery!  In 1989, when the original WaterWorks waterpark opened, a second station was added to the train that is retained today, and the animated figures were phased out of operation.

The Log Flume -- also a huge crowd pleaser at Coney Island -- was relocated to Rivertown. Originally built by Arrow for Coney Island in 1968 at a cost of $500,000, it holds the distinction of being the most expensive attraction ever installed at Coney Island. When it was relocated to Kings Island, the flume was placed adjacent to the train and roamed into the adjacent woods. It featured 23, four-passenger boats and utilized a 30,000-gallon-a-minute circulation system. One of the few remaining original attractions, it was completely overhauled in 2001 by the O.D. Hopkins company operates today as Race for Your Life Charlie Brown.

A popular canoe attraction from Coney Island’s Lake Como was also relocated to Rivertown, and doubled in size. Kenton’s Cove Canoes and Shawnee Landing were placed at the rear of Rivertown. Shawnee operated for five seasons (the pond on which it existed would become the location of the station for The Beast in 1979) while Kenton’s Canoes only lasted one season.  It was removed to make way for the addition of the Kenton’s Cove Keelboat Canal in 1973 -- an Arrow Hyrdoflume --which was a much larger flume attraction that helped regulate crowds away from the ever-popular Kings Mill Log Flume. That attraction would last until 2001 and replaced by Tomb Raider: The Ride (we’ll talk about that one in a later blog).

The “Cloud 9” Trabant spinning ride had also been relocated from Coney Island, but was given a roulette wheel overhaul and called Wheel of Fortune. It operated adjacent to the Kings Mill Log Flume for 13 seasons prior to being removed in 1985. 

Finally, the Ohio Overland Auto Livery -- an antique car ride -- operated from 1972 until 1998 as the Rivertown side of the antique car attraction. 

Rivertown is home to one of the parks largest, and most popular, restaurant options. Originally called the Columbia Palace, it became well known for its fried chicken -- so much so, people would attend the park just to eat there! 

When Paramount took the helm of Kings Island, the establishment was re-themed as Wings (a vintage Paramount film) and featured a menu from Cincinnati favorite Montgomery Inn. The eatery still operates today, receiving a massive overhaul in 2013 and becoming the Reds Hall of Fame Grille offering a wide variety of baseball-themed food and adult beverages.

Rivertown also originally included a hand-made leather shop (fun fact – Woody Harrelson of “Cheers” worked there as a teen), candle makers, old-time photos, a shooting gallery, Native American crafts and even a pan-for-gold attraction. The area also housed the park’s original shooting gallery and offered various country-themed performances at an outdoor stage/amphitheater.

However, sweet little Rivertown was shaken to its core when mysterious noises, inexplicable tremors, and vicious acts of vandalism would suspend the operations of the little Miami Amalgamated Mining & Minerals Co. located at the southwest corner of the park. Subsequent to the disturbances, Kings Island authorities designated these occurrences as the work of The Beast, a legendary creature roaming the woods of Rivertown. In reality, this was the warning the park gave to those that braved a ride on their biggest, baddest, tallest, fastest coaster The Beast in 1979.  When the ride premiered at Kings Island, it sent the park’s popularity into orbit, and remains one of the most legendary roller coasters ever built. 

To appease those that enjoyed a damper experience, Kings Island introduced its most popular water attraction in Rivertown in 1985. After warning guests “You WILL get wet”, White Water Canyon takes its riders via round six-person rafts on a clothes-drenching, rapids-filled journey. A great way to cool off on a hot summer day, White Water Canyon has been drenching guests for 32 years and remains as popular (and as wet) as ever!

In 2009, terror struck Rivertown once again when Diamondback and its towering thrills began slithering its way through the themed area. With its station and lift occupying the former location of Swan Lake (a formerly wooded and tranquil pond in the middle of Rivertown), it towers over and winds narrowly through Rivertown before returning to a splash down finale across the pond. Diamondback has become one of the park’s most popular coaster installations, delivering height, speed, and high-adrenaline thrills!

This year, Kings Island revealed yet another mystery lurking in Rivertown. The park has embarked on a mission like no other, inviting guests to discover “What’s in the Shed?” 

Kings Island’s latest wooden coaster takes riders on a thrilling journey through the woods surrounding the K.I. & Miami Valley Railroad, over sections of White Water Canyon, and culminating with a slow roll through a mysterious abandoned lumber mill shed where they encounter… well, you’ll just have to ride it to find out!

Share This

John Keeter

Kings Island Blog Contributor

Post a Comment

Skip to Next Section

JDRF One Walk at Kings Island gives people the opportunity to help out in such a meaningful cause

Lace up your sneakers and join the thousands of people who will gather at Kings Island June 2 not to ride roller coasters, but to walk and share in JDRF’s mission to find a cure for type 1 diabetes (T1D). The event at Kings Island is one of the largest fundraising walks and overall nonprofit fundraising events in the region. Since 1994, more than $12 million has been raised from the walks at Kings Island, including an event-record $700,000 last year.
Read More

Grammy Award winner Zach Williams among featured artists at SpiritSong festival at Kings Island

Zach Williams, who won Best Contemporary Christian Music Album for his breakout album “Chain Breaker” at the 60th annual Grammy Awards ceremony held January 28 in New York, will be among the 12 artists featured at the 25th annual SpiritSong festival this summer at Kings Island. Set for June 21-23 at the 364-acre amusement and water park, other artists joining Williams include TobyMac, for KING & COUNTRY, MercyMe, Crowder, Rend Collective, RED and Hollyn.
Read More

Lifeguarding at Kings Island’s Soak City Water Park a fun and exciting summer job

Being a lifeguard is one of the most exciting and important jobs a young person can hold. While these jobs come with a lot of responsibilities, the experience is rewarding and fun. Many consider it the best summer job they ever had. For teens and young adults looking for a summer job where every day is an opportunity to make a difference, promote safety, help others, and have fun, apply for a lifeguard position at Kings Island’s Soak City Water Park.
Read More

'The Partridge Family' Kings Island episode aired 45 years ago

A year before “The Brady Bunch”, another TV family visited Kings Island with 'The Partridge Family” filming episode No. 66 of their popular prime-time ABC show over a five-day span at the park August 7-11, 1972. The episode titled "I Left My Heart in Cincinnati," with former Cincinnati Reds great and National Baseball Hall of Fame member cast Johnny Bench as a waiter, premiered 45 years ago on this date, January 26, 1973, on ABC.
Read More

Diamondback roller coaster trains get new seats

The tallest and fastest roller coaster at Kings Island will have a new look when the 364-acre amusement and water park opens for the 2018 season April 14. New black seats are replacing the original red-colored seats on each of the three trains on Diamondback.
Read More

10 can't-miss thrill rides at Kings Island

If you’re a thrill seeker planning a visit to Kings Island this year, Don Helbig has 10 suggested thrill rides that he doesn't think you should miss. From the world’s longest wooden and steel inverted roller coasters to knocking on the door of the stratosphere as you soar 30 stories above the park, Kings Island is where thrill seekers meet their match.
Read More

Kings Island attractions give 25 million rides in 2017

The rides and attractions at Kings Island combined to give 25 million rides in 2017. Five attractions gave more than 1 million rides: Banshee (1,636,279), Diamondback (1,557,021), Mystic Timbers (1,312,990), The Racer (1,254,127) and The Beast (1,058,500). The K.I. & Miami Valley Railroad just missed giving 1 million rides, finishing the year at 998,907.
Read More

Kings Island to host job fair to fill 5,000 seasonal positions

Attention all job seekers! Kings Island is hiring more associates in 2018 than any previous season. The 364-acre amusement and water park is hosting a job fair Saturday, January 27, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. to fill more than 5,000 seasonal positions.
Read More

Remembering the Enchanted Voyage

One of the main ingredients in the creation of Kings Island was the theming opportunities offered by Hanna-Barbera. Taft Broadcasting (owners of Hanna-Barbera Studios and financial backers of Kings Island) knew they wanted to heavily showcase their characters in the new park. The Cincinnati Coney Island executives knew that successful parks had highly popular indoor dark rides. So, together they decided that Kings Island would have an elaborate dark ride that would feature a Hanna-Barbera cast. In fact, when it premiered with the park in 1972, “The Enchanted Voyage” was Kings Island’s most expensive attraction at $2 million. 
Read More

Kings Island hiring for 5,000 seasonal positions

More than 5,000 jobs are up for grabs at Kings Island. The 364-acre amusement and water park is now accepting applications online for the 2018 season, which opens April 14. A diverse range of job opportunities are available and associates needed in all areas of park operation. Those areas include admissions, call center, cash control, entertainment, finance, food and beverage, fire and safety, guest services, lifeguards, marketing internships, merchandise, rides, security, sweeps and warehouse.
Read More