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Final ride: Carowinds closes Thunder Road wooden coaster

FORT MILL, S.C. (AP) — Thunder Road is going silent.

The Carowinds theme park on the South Carolina-North Carolina line is shutting down the 39-year-old landmark wooden roller coaster forever. Sunday visitors got their last shot to ride it before it closed to the public.

Park employees are getting their own chance for a last ride Monday, 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 planned to salvage what they could from Thunder Road and send parts and coaster trains to Kings Dominion near Richmond, Virginia, 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 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.”

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