Jersey Jottings: The Camden Whoopee Coaster

By George Brinkerhoff

Posted: 08/21/2012

Camden County, NJ was once home to the first drive in theatre in the world and on the same bit of real estate near Admiral Wilson Boulevard, it was the also the home to perhaps the first Whoopee Coaster in the country. What's a Whoopee Coaster you ask? Well, somewhere back towards the dawn of motoring some folks presumed that if people liked rollercoasters (rollercoasters had been around since the 1880's) then surely people would enjoy employing their car in a similar manner. The idea, you see, was to create a track, built out of wood, that somewhat mimicked the hills and valleys of a rollercoaster. The track was wide enough to accommodate the width of a car and the owners would charge admission (25 cents) to the public, who used their personal vehicles to travel around the circuit. Of course the faster you drove the more thrilling and risky it became. The idea must've seemed feasible at the time because many other "auto coasters" (as they were also referred) were built around the country, including Atlantic City and Woodbridge, NJ. There were wooden guardrails in place in an effort to keep out of control drivers from careening off the track, which, judging by the photographs of these things, had to be an everyday occurrence. Clearly, Whoopee Coasters must have been a boon to the local auto repair shops and personal injury lawyers alike.

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