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4.11.2021

An Ode to the Carpentry Prowess of Knoebels Amusement Resort

This article started as a profile of the beautiful Lawrence Knoebel Covered Bridge, but I ended up realizing that I could not simply cover it without covering some of the other great carpentry accomplishments of the Knoebel family over the years. From humble beginnings, they have built their amusement park into a world famous institution, while dozens of other Pennsylvania Amusement Parks have permanently close. We cover more about visiting the park, and information about the background of this treasure of an amusement park in this prior article, and this one, and within our book on Pennsylvania Amusement Parks, Great Pennsylvania Amusement Parks Road Trip, which is available through the dropdown menu at the top of the page. 

The Knoebels family has a history of saving old structures and giving them new life. The most substantial of which is the perennial coaster favorite, Phoenix, a masterpiece designed the Herbert Schmeck of Philadelphia Toboggan Company for Playland Park in San Antonio, Texas. The amusement park in Texas went out of business and the Knoebel family wanted to build a substantial wooden roller coaster. 

For pennies on the dollar compared to new construction, the park moved the entire priceless and legendary coaster, piece by piece, from Texas, and reconstructed it at their amusement park. The coaster is world renowned for being one of the best. Over the years, the Knoebels have put their prowess in construction to use, gathering rides and more for the amusement park from other parks that have gone out of business over the years, in addition to building two roller coasters from the ground up that were based upon prior classic designs. Black Diamond, an indoor roller coaster dark ride, the only one of its kind, was relocated and rebuilt piece by piece from Wildwood, NJ.

Twister was built entirely in house as a close replica of a classic design, Mr. Twister, which was originally designed by John Allen of the Philadelphia Toboggan Company. They had initially planned to relocate the coaster like they did with Phoenix, but ended up building it fresh instead. 

The Knoebels resurrected a long lost coaster style, Flying Turns, a wooden bobsled concept. This project was worked on in house and with consultants for the better part of a decade. 

Knoebels has always had a knack for making additions to the park that add a different kind of charm for the park, while preserving beloved elements of other parks that have otherwise vanished from our communities. The structure that the Haunted Mansion was built in had floorboards that were repurposed from a local skating rink that were built with priceless old growth wood. A number of eclectic park architectural gems were built, including a picnic pavilion that is shaped like a birthday cake, a food stand that is shaped like a loaf of bread, and more. The park has dozens of classic rides, including two priceless classic carousels, two train ride circuits that utilize antique equipment, three spectacular classic wooden roller coasters, and more, all while preserving as many trees as possible within their forested mountain valley nook. 


One of the most substantial early projects for the family in relocation involved the relocation of an entire classic covered bridge from Benton, thirty miles north east of the park, in 1936. It is one of the few classic covered bridges in the state that is both privately owned, and well maintained. The Knoebels family is uniquely qualified to pull off this task, with a spectacular staff of skilled carpenters and access to their own lumber yard. The covered bridge is one of two on the property, which serve as central recreation points for visitors to the park. 

All of these feats are especially impressive when the context of the region's economic struggles have been considered. The area has otherwise floundered economically for the better part of 40-50 years, like lots of Rust Belt communities, but the Knoebels have found a way to not only survive, but flourish and thrive with hard work, determination, and a keen eye for repurposing that has made Knoebels a one-of-a-kind and world-renowned amusement park destination. Not only have they built these awesome attractions, they have continually maintained and improved them each year with meticulous dedication.

For more background information on Knoebels, and the other fantastic historic amusement parks that the state has to offer, and to help support us, check out our book Great Pennsylvania Amusement Parks Road Trip, which is available through the dropdown menu at the top of the page. Knoebels opens for the season on April 24th!



9 comments :

  1. love knoebels and all that they have done.. even going there all my life n now my grandkids come every year too..most awesome place ever

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  2. Thanks for writing this great article on my only amusement park. I no longer go anywhere but knoebels. We camp there a couple times a year and visit even when we aren't camping.

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  3. So happy to you covering this aspect of the park. I love Knoebels!

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  4. Love Knoebels! Can't wait to get there.

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  5. Yes. HHKnoebel ws my mother's father, and to further the story built cottages near the park mimicking a Covered Wagon,a large Boat and a School house.

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  6. Knoebel's is the best amusement park! Great rides, great food, great prices, tickets for rides great staff!

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  7. Was just there With my grands,and friends ,coworkers, been going since we moved to PA ,lots of fun the pool is the place to be when its really hot 🔥 ❤🎠🎡🎢🚂

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  8. I rwmember all the cute cottages that had been partnofnthe landscape and the original parking lots set among huge trees. It is still a favorite place to go for sixty some years! A great gem for our area! Thank you Knoebels!

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  9. My son laws family always took them there for 2 week vacation when he was young. They all now still go every year taking grandsons. They all love Knoebels so much , they named my grandson Kyle Noble..True story!

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