Shockwave Shrapnel -- Six Flags Great America

After four years, I figured it's time to tell the full story about this junk I have.


This twisted, rusty chunk of steel was once a rail and rail tie for the ShockWave roller coaster that operated at Six Flags Great America from 1988 until 2002.


ShockWave stood 170-feet tall and reached speeds of 65mph; opening as the world's tallest and fastest looping roller coaster. It hurled riders through three vertical loops, a butterfly corkscrew (a combination of half-corkscrews and half-loops; 2 inversions in one element), and two normal corkscrews for a total of 7 inversions.


Unfortunately, the ShockWave was plagued with structural problems and became notorious for headbanging and an overall painful ride experience. These, and a rumored accident led to the ride's removal in 2002 for Superman - Ultimate Flight.


After sitting on a hill near Great America's employee parking lot for two years, the remains of Shockwave were cut up by torches and hauled to the scrapyard in October - November 2004.


After several phone calls, I traced down the scrapyard the ShockWave's remains were sent to (Cleveland Recycling in Zion, IL) and called them to ask if I could grab one of the scraps for "historical purposes". They then gave me a date for when the next truck would arrive from the park.


My mom drove me down there and we waited in the office for the truck to arrive. Once the truck arrived, the driver climbed to the bed and tossed this hunk of steel down. I brought it home and cleaned it up then threw it in my shed until I could find room for it.


It was quite funny watching the SFGAmWorld forums go apeshit after I posted the photos of the track the night it was brought home. There were some jealous people, and some that made false accusations that I stole it from the parking lot of Great America.


Unfortunately the Chicago climate took its toll on the steel and minor rust has formed, but most of the original paint has been preserved. The chunk was moved out of the shed and inside to my room in 2007 where it stands with various other bricks and pieces of places from my childhood.


I should make comment that this two-and-a-half foot long chunk of steel weighs well over 100 pounds or so, and it's a pain in the ass to move it anywhere.


As far as I know, this is the only remaining piece of the Shockwave's track that wasn't melted down at Cleveland Recycling. Small parts of the ride are still found at Six Flags Great America, many of them are Fright Fest props, or parts for the Demon. At one of the ACE Conventions a few bolts were auctioned off, and the trains are currently parts donors for Six Flags Magic Mountain and Six Flags Great Adventure's Arrow Mega-Loopers. One small section of track is rumored to have been re-fabricated to fit a corroding section of Great America's other Arrow looper, the Demon.


It is not for sale. Please do not ask. Do not bother Cleveland Recycling either, there are no more pieces of track as of early 2005.


Anyone else that has relics and/or memories of ShockWave please share in the photo comments.

  • Jessi 7y

    I remember riding the shockwave clearly - it was the first looping coaster I ever went on at age 10! I also remember getting a splitting headache every time I rode it. My last few trips to SFGA before I moved to Kansas, my friends and I didn't even bother to wait in line for this ride. It had lost the thrill. I will always remember it as the bluest roller coaster I'd ever seen, though!
  • Melissa 7y

    aws. that's so cool that you have that. I'd only ridden it once, and had no head banging troubles that one time, but boy was I sad when they tore it was so prominent in the skyline of the place. anyways, that's super cool that you have a piece! and that it's still big blue.
  • Mickey B. Photography 6y

    Shockwave was the first upside-down coaster I went on at SFGA. I was 10, and scared out of my mind. After my first ride, it became my favorite, along with Rolling Thunder. Was sad to see it was torn down and replaced with Superman.

    Nice job telling the story behind this piece.
  • Ricks DiMarco 6y

    I'm happy and sad to see this all at the same time.

    First of all, this picture got me hooked and I just spent about two hours going through your entire Flickr site and quite frankly, I am in a state of disbelief... you amaze me. (Does that sound creepy? Yes, yes it does.) I am not some kind of stalker freak who does this often and you can trust that this is the first time I've left a comment like this.

    The nostalgia... the... abandoned mall. I am... speechless.

    But Shockwave, I can speak on for hours. It actually is hard for me to look at the pic, becuase it makes the fact that it was destroyed seem so real to me and yet, I'm happy to see that a piece of it actually went to someone who cares enough to acquire it. I actually plan to take a trip to Magic Mountain to ride Viper and hopefully to New Jersey to get on Great American Scream Machine. Shockwave was my second favorite coaster at that park but due to its... issues... I only got to ride it a few times. By the way, It was second, only to American Eagle. I do love The Demon, but the Eagle is an absolute masterpiece as far as roller coasters go. That will always hold a special place in my heart. (I also apparently sound like a Hallmark Card, tonight.)

    We have a very similar collection of Coca-Cola stuff, by the way. This is why I'm so speechless. Your interests are all so... familiar. I cannot believe what I am seeing.
  • Howard Parks 6y

    I rode it back in 1996. Awesome coaster.
  • windjmmr 5y

    I am the same way with coasters.. that is sooo awesome that you have a piece of it... i have several pieces of rollercoasters in my home so i can understand the feeling...
  • William Brach PRO 4y

    If only I had thought about doing this back in 2006 when the former Opryland rides were sold for scrap from the Old Indiana Fun Park...... I would have loved to have a piece of Chaos.
  • Cool 'Cuda 2y

    William Brach Chaos at Opryland was the only coaster there that I would ride when I was 9! RIP Opryland and Chaos!
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Taken on July 29, 2008
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