More Hydro Tube Information

December 27th, 2010

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.

Entry Filed under: Randomness

5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. marcy  |  January 7th, 2011 at 11:30 am

    Yes !!!! I want piccys, please :-)

    It’s kinda weird when you think about it. I mean, it’s not like hydrotubes existed in the days before there were such things as photographs, yet you would think they DID, since images seem impossible to find.

  • 2. TINA KEATON  |  April 22nd, 2011 at 12:58 am

    in my home town we had a hydro tube arcaide games mini golf all in one spot in a mall. everything is gone except for the pool. they took down the hydro tube. i’am going to business school and my plan is to bring back the whole thing in the same location. i’am trying to find someone who makes those slides it was enclosed green and came out of the roof. if u have any help of where i can get this done i would like it..my location is westwood mall,pocatello,IDAHO. this was built in the 80’s and ran in the 80’s..my # 208-705-7461. please only call if their is help..prefere to e-mail me first..

  • 3. Curtis  |  April 3rd, 2012 at 3:13 am

    some more info with pics and adds
    http://portlandism.blogspot.com/2011/09/slip-slidin-away.html

  • 4. Mike  |  October 20th, 2012 at 9:15 pm

    I grew up in Pocatello and have fond memories of the Westwood Mall fun center. I went in that hydrotube quite a bit. I remember when it went back inside it would turn dark and then you would experience a sharp, sudden drop, and then it went through both bathrooms. It finished up by going through the pump room where it got almost pitch-black if the lights in that room were not turned on. I also remember you could go down it pretty much any way you want; i.e. head first, kneeling, etc. Any hydrotubes still existing and operating or any type of waterslide for that matter lets no one down any way but feet first. What a shame we live in a sue-happy society these days.

  • 5. Angela  |  March 7th, 2017 at 2:39 pm

    $3.00 doesn’t sound like much, but since everyone was suffering from the Reagan Recession at the time, it was probably more than most people could afford, especially with multiple kids. The rides lasted less than a clock minute, after all - you spent far more time in the lines than on the slides - and if you had three kids interested in going, like we did, then it would be closing in on $30 (in 2017 USD) just for ride bracelets.

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