Swamp Fox Roller Coaster a Myrtle Beach Landmark

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Over the past half-century, Myrtle Beach has seen several of its historic landmarks demolished to make room for bigger and better attractions. But a select few have stood the test of time, like the Swamp Fox roller coaster at Family Kingdom.

While the closings of the Pavilion and Hard Rock Park in the 2000s marked the end of many thrill rides, more modern ones have opened along Ocean Boulevard in recent years, such as the Myrtle Beach SkyWheel and the Slingshot Bungee ride.

But the Swamp Fox, named after South Carolinian and American Revolutionary War hero Francis Marion, remains a Myrtle Beach tradition among roller coaster purists and longtime visitors who want to take a rickety ride down memory lane. Built in 1966, the classic wooden construction is now the only roller coaster on the Myrtle Beach oceanfront.

Featuring white-lattice railing and that unmistakable sound of a rattling track, the Swamp Fox gives passengers a throwback experience and a scenic view of the Myrtle Beach downtown and coastline. But take your photos before the roller coaster picks up top speed or your shots will be a blur.

The Swamp Fox reaches a height of 75 feet and features a top speed of 50 mph – fast enough to produce some hair-raising moments but tame enough to give you that nostalgic roller-coaster experience. The classic up-and-down layout still puts a few knots in your stomach but nothing to frightening.

The Swamp Fox might not be as fast, tall or scary as some of the new high-tech coasters that have been constructed over the past half-century, but it’s still a treasure for longtime roller-coaster lovers. The website www.about.com lists the Swamp Fox as one of the top 10 most underrated roller coasters in the U.S., citing its location and long-standing tradition as reasons to ride the roller coaster.

It's a great opportunity for the whole family to experience a taste of the golden days of seaside amusement parks, and a chance for the kids to try something from another era – while they still can. But if the tradition continues, they may be able to bring their children and grandchildren to Family Kingdom for the same experience someday.

(posted 6/25/14)