WHEN KING WAS COAL: Flying Trapeze

Flying Trapeze

When patrons at Gaffney’s Lake Wilderness Resort tired of the Otter Slide, they could always turn their attention to the “Flying Trapeze.” This thrilling attraction was located at one end of the long dock, enclosing an acre-size swimming area. As seen in this photo, the Flying Trapeze featured a pair of ropes connected by a metal rod, which swung from a tall wooden scaffold overhead. A long pole was used to pull the rope back for the next performer waiting on the platform. Each flyer would grip the fly bar, swinging back and forth to gain momentum until releasing for the spectacular flip, dive, somersault, or splash into the water below. One can only hope the sign posted on the right read, “Use at Your Own Risk.”

With the growth of State and County parks starting in the early 1960s, private resort like Gaffney’s Lake Wilderness slowly lost their customer base. Why pay to visit a private retreat when you could go to a public park for free? In time, almost all the local private resorts (Lake Sawyer, Lake Retreat, Flaming Geyser, Lake 12, Pipe Lake, Green River Gorge, Shadow Lake, and Lake Lucerne) closed down and were converted to residential or acquired by public entities. This photo number P.00.15.22 comes courtesy of the Maple Valley Historical Society with the vivid description of the Flying Trapeze provided by its President, Dick Peacock who flung from this device on more than a few occasions.