La Salle's River Adventure
1961 - 1982
[Click on Pictures for Larger Views]
La Salle's River Adventure was one of the original rides, opening with the park in 1961. Located in the French section, the fleet of French riverboats traveled the replica of the Lavaca River until 1982, when the ride was closed to make room for the roaring rapids. The last trip was on August 15, 1982.
The ride was part of the recreation of Fort St. Louis that constituted the French section. Fort St. Louis was established by Rene' Robert Cavelier Sieur de La Salle on Matagorda bay in 1685.
The riverboat captain was also the ride narrator. The ride started with an explanation that a more experienced riverboat captain and two trained river scouts, Jacque and Pierre, had been sent up ahead.
Around the first corner, however, it was discovered that the river outpost had been attacked by Indians. The riverboat captain has been killed. The crew goes on, in hopes that Jacque and Pierre are still down the river.
The boat travels a little further to one of the ride's, and the park's, most impressive animations. The boat comes face to face with a recreation of a Spanish fort. As the boot approaches the fort, a Spanish conquistador rises up from behind the fort wall and waives his sword. On his signal, the fort's three cannon begin to fire, sending water shooting up all around the boat.
The boat survives, only to find Jacque and Pierre hanging from a tree. Not wanting to risk the Spanish fort again, the boat travels on through a French and Indian cross-fire, past wild animals, more Indians, and past a beaver colony, where a tree falls just inches from the boat.
The finale of the ride came as the river dead-ends into a water-fall in front of a rock-wall. The river is too narrow to turn around, so the Captain is forced to simply stop the boat. As the boat stops, the water pouring down in front of the rock wall suddenly diverts and begins rushing down the side of the rocks. As it does, the rock-wall opens, revealing a cave.
The boat moves forward again, entering the cave. When the boat is completely inside the cave, the rock-wall behind the boat closes, trapping the boat. The cave is revealed to be an Indian treasure cave, with the remains of prior explorers and treasure.
In exchange for not bothering the cave's contents, the cave's front doors open and the boat travel's out, only to discover that it has traveled back to Fort St. Louis. Another safe journey.
The 25 foot fiberglass boats ran on a track which was composed of a slightly deeper channel in the middle of the river A tire mounted sideways on an axel descend from the front and back of the boat. The tires rode inside the channel, guiding the boat around the river.
A small antenna wire on the top of each boat triggered the various animations when it contacted small wires running across the river just before each scene.
A docking area next to the Spanish fort was home for seven of the boats. This was also the location from which boats could be placed and removed from the water.
After the ride was closed, some of the boats were sold to the nearby 'Lion Country Safari' amusement park. It eventually closed. A few of the boats were given outboard engines and actual steering capacity and are still in service as tourist boats at Cypress Bayou in Jefferson County, Texas.