Local reminisces on old Water Boggan attraction in Pigeon Forge
As an East Tennessee local, I’ve seen plenty of Pigeon Forge attractions that have come and gone. Some were products of the time period. It was the 70s and 80s. If you could talk someone into financing it, you could make it a reality. I think, looking back, not every attraction had to be high concept. Sometimes all you needed was a hill, some water and enough affordable building material to create a slide and let gravity do its work.
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Welcome, my friends, to Water Boggan in Pigeon Forge, a twin-flume giant water slide totaling more than 1,000 feet of slippery concrete based on the alpine toboggan flumes of Switzerland, France, Italy, Slovenia or Liechtenstein. The brochure was vague on the inspiration. But the idea is money, baby. You could have relatively low overhead, maybe a little high on the insurance, but this was the 80s. Insurance may have been a 50/50 proposition.
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What happened to the Water Boggan?
Well, I like to think it was an inconsistent capitalization in their marketing materials. Was it Water Boggan, water boggan or WaterBoggan? The world may never know. No, what likely took Water Boggan down was the fact that 70s and 80s business people thought concrete was a perfectly acceptable surface for nearly nude people to go a-sliding on. “Even with the water, it’s a little rough.” “Ok. We’ll give them foam rubber mats. It will be fine. Put some Bactine on the boy and send him back up the hill.”
Entry into the slides – which were obviously engineered by well-trained professionals and not someone with an Etch A Sketch – did at least come with a super useful foam rubber mat. But woe was coming for any slider who lost track of their mat in one of the seven “breathtaking turns” or the 360-degree loop (horizontal, not vertical). You’d reach the bottom, bruised and battered, floating in a three-foot deep, climate-controlled pool filled with water. But don’t worry, that water was so chlorinated you were two steps away from bathing in bleach.
When did the Water Boggan close?
There’s not a lot of information left on Water Boggan, so the exact year it closed is unclear. There are a few old brochures, but even they are bare bones. There’s only so much you can say about a pair of concrete water slides. After the two slides, the chief enticements the marketing geniuses could come up with were changing rooms, a bathhouse and free parking.
Where is the Water Boggan in Pigeon Forge today?
Billed as being just five minutes from Gatlinburg at the Pigeon Forge city limits, Water Boggan is long gone. In its place sets a series of rental cabins for camping. Though it isn’t immediately evident what caused Water Boggan’s demise, I assume Ogle’s Water Park, with its fancy wave pool and smooth, fiberglass slides, cut significantly into Water Boggan’s market share. Also, here’s a big thank you to OldGatlinburg.net for permission to use these photos of the Water Boggan. For even more photos, be sure to visit them online.
Do you remember the Water Boggan? Let me know in the comments below.