The Grandma’s Marathon finish line wasn’t the only attraction in Canal Park in 1992. Bungee Maxx Inc. also was in town with its 130-foot crane set up outside the Park Inn, which is now the Canal Park Lodge.
Thrill-seekers could pay $75 to be strapped into an ankle harness, then free fall from a rubber bungee cord, hurtling toward the pavement on Canal Park Drive below.
Jay Dandrea of Superior makes his first-ever bungee jump. (1992 file / News Tribune)
Then-News Tribune staff writer Jay Faherty took the plunge and wrote a column about it. For some, the price for such a rush was a little too much. But Faherty thought it was worth the cash, saying in his column: "The rush created from the acceleration and seeing the ground grow closer and closer was a high I never felt before."
A bungee jumper takes a leap from the 130-foot crane outside the Park Inn. (1992 file / News Tribune)
The jumpers didn’t actually fall 130 feet, though. Well, not unless something went wrong. The bungee cord allowed them to go only about 90 feet down before bouncing them back skyward.
According to a News Tribune story accompanying the 1992 column, an accident had happened in Excelsior, Minn., just days before the thrill attraction was in Duluth. A woman lost consciousness when the bungee cord recoiled around her neck during the jump. But that didn’t stop about 150 local jumpers from experiencing the thrill.
Don Jewell of West Duluth falls backwards to begin his descent toward Canal Park Drive. (1992 file / News Tribune)
Read Jay Faherty’s bungee-jumping column below:
On a bungee plunge
By Jay Faherty
News Tribune staff writer
Some said it was guts. Others called it stupidity.
I thought it was simply unbelievable.
Bungee Maxx Inc. was back in Duluth with its crane and rubber-band like ropes to give Northlanders the opportunity to experience some true free-falling.
If you had asked me earlier this week what I was doing Saturday, I probably wouldn’t have said I would be plummeting from atop a 130-foot crane toward the pavement.
But that’s what I did.
Totally by choice, of course. No one forced, or even asked me to jump. I just thought it looked like fun.
I had my doubts about the entire process until watching co-owners Tim Swail, Pat Crosby and Sean Knutsen check each and every piece of equipment during set-up Friday night at a parking lot between the Park Inn International and Endion Station.
After watching several jumps that night, I decided I would jump Saturday afternoon.
After paying $75, two of the company’s 13-member crew dressed me in harnesses and gadgets from ankle to waist and said I was ready to go. Swail accompanied me to the top and explained what was about to happen.
"When we reach the top, I’m going to throw the cord out and put you on the edge of the cart," he said. "I’ll shut the door behind you, but don’t think I’m pushing you off."
The view was incredible for the few seconds I was at the top. But the sight wasn’t all that great when I realized I would soon be heading straight down toward all of it.
He then told me that after I was announced as next jumper, the crowd would join in a five-count countdown. Then I was to do a huge swan dive and keep my eyes open. Just before the crowd started its countdown, Swail jokingly asked, "So, Jay, how do you like heights?"
Then things happened really quickly.
"What am I doing?"
"Wow, the lift bridge is up."
"Here goes nothing."
"Oh, my god."
I dove. I kept my line of sight on one spot and couldn’t help but think that if this cord did break, I wouldn’t even know what happened.
The rush created from the acceleration and seeing the ground grow closer and closer was a high I never felt before. Then it was over.