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The Dragon Slide

Submitted by David W. Jessup

If you aren't old enough to have ridden the Dragon Slide at the Nat, you have missed one of the most fascinating features of the park. After walking into the park past the Custer Speedway and the Jack Rabbit, my parents and I turned to our right. Just ahead and on the left I saw a great facade of a dragon that looked to me, as an eight year old child, to be at least three stories high.

People were climbing up stairs and a ramp on the front of the facade. The dragon's wings, eyes and wide open mouth faced the street. People were flying out of the dragon's throat, over its raised tongue and landing on a huge heavy pad placed below the dragons shiny front fangs.

Nat Park Dragon Slide
The Dragon Slide c.1918-1920
Photo Courtesy of David W. Jessup
Taken by his father while stationed at Ft. George Wright

After prying a nickel out of my parents and presenting it to the girl at the cashier's cage, I walked up a frequently bending stair case and some ramps. At the top I saw the mouth of two, closely joined, highly polished wooden slides. An attendant demanded I select either a large canvas rectangle to wrap around myself or a fiber mat about three sizes larger than a door mat. I selected and seated myself on the fiber mat at the top of the slide. I was unceremoniously given a shove.

The high sided, "U" shaped cross section of the two adjacent slides allowed riders to speed around the curves - now in the dark interior of the dragon - without popping over the edges. As I emerged from the throat of the dragon I was propelled over the tongue and sprawled onto the large mat at the mouth of the slide. Someone in the adjoining slide landed shortly thereafter. I could hardly wait until I could talk my parents out of another nickel.
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