Archive for December, 2010

More Hydro Tube Information

Some followers of this blog may recall a post from 2009 about Oregon’s lost hydro tubes. Since there was so much interest in the topic, I did a little more digging and found some Oregonian articles that were quite enlightening. Of particular note was an article from February 2nd, 1987 titled “High Costs Send Water Slides Down the Tube”. Some noteworthy tidbits from the piece include:

• “Hydro tubes” or “hydrotubes” was a generic term derived from a manufacturer’s brand name
• Hydro tubes had a very short heyday in Oregon, lasting from 1982 until about 1984
• The Oregon Health Division has records of seven hydro tube sites in our state during the ‘80s
• One hydro tube sites was located in Vancouver, WA (East Fourth Plain) and operated from 1983 to 1985
• The company Design Works built the hydro tubes at the Eastport Plaza, Washington Square, Keizer, and Eugene locations
• Hydro tube sites in Oregon cost between $650,000 to one million to build (in early ‘80s dollars)
• In 1983 at the Washington Square hydro tube location, 10 trips down the slide would cost you $3.00 on a weekday and $4.00 on a weekend

As far as why hydro tube operations failed, the article mentioned a couple of causes including:

• The high cost of construction
• High operating costs, including liability insurance
• Maintaining interest during non-peak season (peak season = summer and school vacations)
• Lack of variety in slides

Early investors in the Eastport Plaza hydro tube location got something like 50% of their money back during the first six months of operation, but other sites, like the one on Landcaster Drive in Salem, quickly failed despite heavy promotion. While there were a number of lawsuits against hydro tube operators, it’s unclear if any were ever successful. Mary Alvey, manager of Oregon’s drinking water compliance program in the late ‘80s, believed it was a lack of interest in the slides, and not lawsuits from injuries, that caused the hydro tube fad to fade.

I’m pretty confident this is a definitive list of former hydro tube sites in Oregon:

1. Eastport Plaza
2. Washington Square
3. Milwaukee (Holly Farm Mall)
4. Keizer
5. Salem (Landcaster Drive)
6. Eugene
7. Jansen Beach

And these sites were planned, but never built:

1. Bend
2. Seaside

Still looking for pictures to post. Maybe The Oregonian would be kind enough to let me snatch some images from their archives.

5 comments December 27th, 2010


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