Ken Miller has created the ultimate guide to Cedar Point history. No amusement park matches Cedar Point's history, and no book has captured Cedar Point's story in this kind of detail. "Rolling Through The Years" chronicles every aspect of Cedar Point's extraordinary 150-year story. Recall long-lost memories as you flip through more than 1,200 photos, many never before published.
Ken Miller is the perfect storyteller. "Rolling Through The Years" is a must-read for anyone fascinated with Cedar Point's past.
Walt Schmidt, Pointbuzz.com
Reviewed by H. John Hildebrandt
Over the past 150 years there has been a lot written about Cedar Point—narrative histories; newspaper articles; magazine articles; memoirs; scholarly economic papers; business briefs; letters; and now, in more recent years, blog posts, tweets, and Facebook posts. The authors and contributors—and I count myself among them—run into the many thousands, their words into the many millions.
However, the book that Ken Miller has created has never been done before, and I doubt will ever be done again. Rolling Through the Years, a Cedar Point Atlas and Chronology (1870 Publishing Group) is the greatest assemblage of Cedar Point “facts” as there will ever be. Ken has organized his book into two main sections. The first is thematic, providing in depth information on some of the unique attractions at Cedar Point, both old and new, including HalloWeekends, roller coasters (including a coaster glossary), hotels and resorts, ferryboats and steamships, including the beloved G.A. Boeckling, historical markers, the Cedar Point & Lake Erie Railroad, and more.
The second is a chronology of Cedar Point, located at the tip of a five mile long sandy peninsula (currently better described as barrier island) that forms the eastern boundary of Sandusky Bay, starting in the early 1800s and continuing every year up to today, the amusement park and resort’s sesquicentennial year. The park has always been a seasonal operation. Each season is unique, from weather to what’s new to the price of a ticket. Rolling Through the Years recognizes that perspective and honors it.
I confess I immediately turned to page 268 to immerse myself in the 1969 season, when I worked at the park on the now departed Frontier Lift. The gush of facts on the page brought a gush of memories for me. Park admission was a good deal in 1969: $5.00.
Ken and his wife, Gretchen, are long-time seasonal employees of the park. For many years, Ken has managed the Guest Services station inside the Town Hall Museum in Frontier Town. There’s no better job to learn the facts of the park, and no better job to learn to appreciate the emotional bond that exists between Cedar Point and its guests.
Ken has another life, too. He teaches high school math for Erie County schools. Perhaps because of his training as a mathematician, Ken is a hound for facts. If he writes that the original track length of the CP&LE was 8,450 feet, you can take it to the bank. The Toxic Tunnel of Terror haunted house debuted the second year of HalloWeekends (that would be 1998). He’s done his homework and his checked his facts through primary sources. Ken has invested seven years of his life (mostly nights and weekends) researching and writing this book.
The writing is crisp, direct, and smooth. It hits the right tone throughout.
The presentation of all these facts includes more than 1,200 images that beautifully drape the story from beginning to end: 75 maps (from 1837 to 2019); brochures; vintage postcards; letters; architectural drawings; logos; signage; billboards; pictures of coasters and more coasters; tickets; merchandise; uniforms.
A great many of the images in the book come from the Cedar Point Archives and the park deserves credit for making them available.
This is a coffee table book. Ken makes no apology for it being large (12 x 18) and heavy (hardcover, 396 pages, high quality paper). It will dominate any table it’s on. After all, it is the story of the world’s greatest amusement park.
H. John Hildebrandt is the author of Always Cedar Point, a Memoir of the Midway, a memoir of his 40 years walking the midway at the park.
Hildebrandt started as a staff writer in the Marketing Department and rose to General Manager in 2005. He retired following the 2013 season.