Ride the Wild Bolt

Soaring atop the Golden Gate Bridge—the dreamiest roller coaster thrills ever!
The Bolt

With summer around the corner, take a moment to daydream—first about a family outing to Santa Cruz beach, where a boardwalk filled with thrill rides awaits.

Then drift back to the Roaring ‘Twenties, when folks rolled as well as roared—often at the same time.

The 1920s were ‘the golden age of the roller coaster,’ with nearly 2,000 constructed in the United States alone. The Depression put an end to that boom—but not to roller coaster dreamers.

Such a one was Joseph Bazzeghin, an architect from Connecticut. In 1938, as preparations were underway for the Golden Gate International Exposition on Treasure Island, Bazzeghin presented a plan for a pair of roller coasters, not of the standard wood but of steel.

The plan made use of two recently built, strikingly prominent pre-existing steel structures—the Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco Bay Bridge.

The Golden Gate Bolt, as Bazzeghin dubbed the coaster on the Golden Gate Bridge, would have sent thrill-seekers on the most exciting ride of their lives—and probably their last.

Seated four abreast in open cars—but with windshields, praise heavens—riders would have plummeted down the suspension cable from the south span, hitting speeds of 200 miles per hour or more, right on up to the north tower, before making landfall in Marin County.

The Bay Bridge Bolt added to the fun by sending the ride’s high flyers through an underwater tube after descending the cables.

Unfortunately, Bazzeghin wrote, the plans were scotched by the “usual resistance which obstructs the acceptance of all new ideas.”

• Today’s feature offers a taste of our forthcoming story ‘Bay Area Reimagined,’ coming to EichlerNetwork.com and to the summer (July) 2013 issue of CA-Modern magazine. Get set for a handful of amazing modern designs that, if they had been built as planned, would have put a new face on the Bay Area. It’s all a prelude to the exhibit ‘Unbuilt San Francisco,’ a look at “the visionary ideas that were too grandiose for even San Franciscans to consider,” which will be shown in tandem at five different Bay Area venues beginning this summer. For details, visit aiasf.org.