The Astro City Rocket Slide
Cedar River Exchange Park, Waterloo, Iowa
My Home Page, TallGeorge.com

Here are some family slides from 1974, showing my brother and I playing on the cool rocket slide at Cedar River Exchange Park in Waterloo, Iowa. My grandparents lived at the corner of Easton and 9th in Waterloo (Grandad worked for the WCF&N Railroad), and we would come to this park when we visited from out of state. This slide is a cultural relic of the space age, embodying the enthusiasm everyone felt for space exploration in the 60's.

The Rocket Slide was built by the Miracle Equipment Company of Grinnell, Iowa around 1971 (Miracle is still in business, now located in Monett, Missouri). The President of the Miracle Equipment Company, Claude W. Ahrens, was sort of the Willy Wonka of playground equipment, and if you were a child in America from 1950 to today, you have played on his designs. Here is an article about Ahrens from 1972 that briefly mentions the Astro City Rocket Slide. A generous man his whole life, Ahrens died in 2000 and a foundation was established in his honor.

Photos of other rocket slide installations can be had at Flickr.com, including the modern day version here and here.

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Man, that was one serious piece of playground equipment. To an eight year old, it was like you were climbing up the Saturn V gantry. This was the largest piece of playground equipment ever manufactured in the United States. When this picture was taken it was nearly new, and sported a fancy factory paint job!



That's me going down the STEEP slide - I look like I'm scared to death, which means I was having fun!! I've seen later pictures where they extended the covered portion of the curved red slide farther down, probably to improve safety.



Here's an ad from the Miracle Equipment Company. The man on the left is Waterloo City Parks Director Leonard Kateski. The man on the right, Buddy Jones, is touting his Astro City located in Vicksburg, Mississippi.



My five year old brother John poses in front of Astro City. Claude Ahrens, founder of the Miracle Equipment Company, claimed that if a child climbed the slide from right to left ten times while playing, he would have gotten a quarter-mile worth of exercise!



My brother John (left) and me on the front porch of the Rocket Slide. Do you see the garden of painted "moon rocks" in the background?



The Rocket Slide eventually wore out and it was replaced with modern, lawyer-approved playground equipment. Sniff.