Thunder’s wild ride ends

Carowinds estimated that 40 million guests took a ride on Thunder Road over its 39-year run.

Thunder Road has gone silent.

The Carowinds theme park on the South Carolina-North Carolina line shut down the 39-year-old landmark wooden roller coaster forever. Visitors got their last shot to ride it Sunday before it closed to the public at 10 p.m.

Park employees were to get their own chance for a final ride Mon- day, the Herald of Rock Hill reported.

The coaster runs from South Carolina into North Carolina and back again.

General Manager Mike Fehnel said Thunder Road is being torn down to make room for improvements in the County Fair section of the park.

The new attraction is expected to be announced next month.

The newspaper reported it probably will not be a roller coaster, but will be something wet.

Carowinds crews plan to salvage what they can from Thunder Road and send parts and coaster trains to Kings Dominion near Richmond, Va., or Kings Island in Mason, Ohio. Those parks have older versions of Thunder Road.

A contractor will recycle what’s salvageable from more than a half-million feet of treated lumber used to build the attraction.

Even the concrete footings will be dug up and recycled.

Some riders exiting Thunder Road on Sunday said they first rode the roller coaster decades ago.

“It’s still a good ride,” said Steve Hicks, 59, of Charlotte, who wore a Thunder Road T-shirt he had purchased commemorating the final ride.

“It’s like riding a classic car of the 1950s,” Hicks said. “It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of a modern car, but you want to ride it.”

Thunder Road was built for $1.6 million in 1976, three summers after the park opened, and originally featured a red, white and blue paint scheme.

It took its name from a 1958 movie and has more than a mile of track.

The park refurbished the classic coaster in 2013 to make it smoother.

Carowinds estimated Thunder Road carried 40 million riders over its nearly four-decade run.

The Fort Mill amusement park is owned by Sandusky, Ohio-based Cedar Fair LP,

The nearly 400-acre property has more than 50 rides, shows and attractions.

The Post and Courier contributed to this report.