Harry Traver
 Harry Traver
An Amusement Park Legend

Harry Traver was born in Gardner, Illinois, in 1877. His working career was quite varied. He started out as a teacher, became a mechanical engineer apprentice, and then a machinist. It was on a transatlantic voyage to England, though, that his life was changed forever. Reflecting on the motion of the ship, he got the idea for an amusement park ride that he called the Circle Swing and he went home to form the Circle Swing Company. The Traver Engineering Company, responsible for building so many amusement park rides around the world, came later, in 1919. Within 5 years the company was already the world's largest manufacturer of amusement park rides.

During his career, Traver collaborated with Prior and Church on a number of coasters and Church had Traver build many of his Bobs style coasters.

Traver went on, though, to design and build his own coasters and many of them were regarded as outstanding examples of the art form. He created three steel coasters each called The Cyclone. One was located in Palisades Park, New York, another at Riviere Beach in Massachusetts, and the third one at Crystal Beach in Ontario, Canada. The Crystal Beach Cyclone (shown above) is the only coaster in the world that had its own full-time nursing station to deal with cases of nausea and rib injuries. The Cyclones are remembered as perhaps the most extreme of the old coasters.

Crystal Beach is a famous holiday/recreational destination on the Ontario shore of Lake Erie close to Fort Erie, Ontario and Buffalo, New York. The pictures below show the resort circa 1911 prior to the building of the Cyclone.

Traver Engineering built a wide variety of rides and at Belle Vue they were responsible for the Caterpillar, and the Delux Seaplane (which was a variation of the Circle Swing Ride).

Seaplane Delux

The Crystal Beach Cyclone is shown here with the permission of Ken Rutherford. I discovered it whilst perusing his web site Ken's Classic Coaster Postcards. Anyone interested in coasters, old postcards or amusement park history should visit this site.


The photograph of Harry Traver is shown with the permission of PittsburghLIVE - an Online Guide to Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania. It was at their site that I found a Tribute to Harry Traver written in February 1997 by Sandra Downs for THE TRIBUNE-REVIEW

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