Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

News

February 15, 2014

Popular toboggan run offers Olympic-sized thrills

ANGOLA, Ind. (AP) — Have you caught Olympic fever? Ever wondered what it would be like to try the Olympic bobsled course?

If you live in Indiana, and don’t want to travel great distances, the odds are you won’t be riding a bobsled. Don’t despair, you can easily hop on Interstate 69 and head up to Pokagon State Park near Angola. The park is the home of a chilled toboggan run, and although it is not quite the same as riding down a Russian mountainside, it could be a close second.

From the Friday after Thanksgiving through February, people can rent a toboggan for $12.84 an hour and go down the hill as many times as they like.

One a recent Saturday, the several flights of stairs that lead to the top of the 30-foot tower were packed with people and toboggans, but the line moved ahead quickly as groups were loaded onto their padded sleds and sent down the hill. It was easy to tell when someone was on the track: their screams followed them down the hill. It takes about 30 seconds to reach the bottom of the run, which has a 90-foot vertical drop.

A speed gun near the base of the track records sledders’ rides. On this particular day, most people were running 30 to 35 mph by the time they got to the bottom.

Standing near the track Saturday afternoon, Fred Wooley, a park interpreter, told The News-Sentinel (http://bit.ly/1kHdAUX ) that the toboggan run dates from 1938, when the Civilian Conservation Corps had 556 boys build a wooden run with a 20-foot high tower.

The course has been improved over the years. The tower was replaced with a 30-foot one. The track was later straightened, another lane added, and, starting in 1971, it became refrigerated. It had a major overhaul in 1984. Wooley said it is one of only three refrigerated tracks in the Midwest.

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