Essentially a roller coaster running on an ice paved track, it was among the earliest coasters constructed in the United States. It was built on a tract of land 60 by 400 feet upon the southern portion of the Midway Plaisance near Lexington Avenue (later renamed South University Avenue) and consisted of a loop with one high point of elevation at twenty-five feet. The ice was manufactured by machinery on site. There were two trains, each of which was made up of four connected bobsleds with six seats apiece.
The trains would be drawn to the high point by a cable, then freed and allowed to slide down the inclines and around the loop. The track width was 44.5 inches and fitted on both sides with rubber wheels, insuring a smooth, steady ride. The entrance and exit platform also included a restaurant.
|10¢ for two consecutive trips.|
|The Snow and Ice Railway can be seen in the Foreground.|
At the close of the Exposition, the Snow and Ice Railway was moved to Coney Island in Brooklyn but direct sunlight and insufficient refrigeration quickly closed the ride. As Robert Cartwell wrote in his book, The Incredible Scream Machine: A History of the Roller Coaster, "It was not the first idea to be duplicated from Chicago at Coney Island. It would seem that if certain entrepreneurs had their way, the complete Midway Plaisance would have been moved to Brooklyn."
This is but one example of the influence the 1893 Columbian Exposition had on future expositions, amusement parks and American cultural life, generally.
World's Columbian Exposition Illustrated, December 1893
Edited by Neil Gale, Ph.D.