The Phoenix at Knoebels in Elysburg PA. Originally called The Rocket and located in San Antonio TX. Knoebels wanted a wood coaster, but they were on a tight budget, being a small mom-pop park. They purchased the classic 1948 Herbert Schmeck-designed Rocket and had it hauled to Pennsylvania, reassembling it on a wooded lot at the edge of the park.
Nearly everyone in the industry said they were nuts. There were no blueprints, so every piece was numbered as it was disassembled in Texas. Besides, you can move a steel coaster around from place to place, but a woodie? Impossible!
Knoebels got the last laugh, though, as Phoenix is not only a huge success, celebrating its 30th season at the park this year, but is consistently ranked as one of the best wood coasters in the world - and they got it for a fraction of the cost of a new one.
It also proved to the industry that classic wood coasters were moveable, that they were financially sound investments for a park, and that they were worth saving. After Knoebels' success with Phoenix, other wood coasters were saved from the wrecking ball by parks eager to have a signature ride, but without the huge budgets normally required.
So happy 30th anniversary, Phoenix! And thanks to Knoebels for saving this classic coaster as well as indirectly saving many others by proving that history is worth preserving.